New traditions meet old at German-American FestivalWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The German-American Festival Society is throwing its 44th celebration of German and Swiss culture Aug. 28 through 30 at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon.
The event is rich in history. Festival chair Timothy Pecsenye said by 1966, the Toledo area was home to seven different German and Swiss ethnic societies. In an attempt to establish a sense of unity among the organizations, representatives from each group came together to create Toledo’s first German-American Festival. The success of that initial collaborative venture resulted in a more permanent association of the seven original ethnic societies in the form of the German-American Festival Society (GAF).
Pecsenye said the GAF Society continues its mission of promoting its collective ethnic heritage by offering up the entertainment, Germanic fare and extensive beer and wine collection festivalgoers have come to expect over the years.
The festival continues in its tradition of lively musical performances by showcasing five-piece headliner band Die Sandler, straight out of Steinach, Germany, and homegrown Pink Floyd-inspired, accordion-meets-rock ‘n’ roll group, Polka Floyd. Music will continue live on three stages throughout the weekend.
The festival’s commitment to making each year’s festivities better than the last continues this year with several new offerings. Pecsenye said he is excited to announce that the festival is taking on a fresh look this year with the switch to a new amusement ride operator. A first-ever baking contest is slated for Aug. 29.
Through an exclusive deal with the Build-a-Bear company, event mascot Moritz the raccoon and his sweetheart, Mitzi, will be available for purchase at this year’s festival.
Also of interest to children will be the 18th Annual Hummel Look-Alike Contest for children ages 2 to 10. Roughly a dozen pint-sized entrants will don the attire and strike the pose of a figurine of their choosing. Adults will battle it out in the Swiss Steinstossen stone-throwing contest. Men and women will compete to see how far they can toss 138-pound and 75-pound stones.
Pecsenye emphasizes the dedication of those who make the festival possible each year.
“The festival is a labor of love for our volunteers,” he said.
In an attempt to give something back to those helpers, the festival began offering a German language Sunday morning service for members eager to work but wanting to worship. This year’s worship service begins at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday and is open to the public. Anyone attending the worship service will receive free admission to the festival.
The Toledo German-American Festival’s reach extends beyond the northwest corner of Ohio.
“It’s very much a regional festival,” Pecsenye said. Visitors are expected to arrive from Illinois, Indiana and from as far away as Texas.
The 2009 German-American Festival runs 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Aug. 28; 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Aug. 29; and noon to 11 p.m. Aug. 30. For more information, visit www.German AmericanFestival.net or www.GAF Society.org/fest.htm.
Tags: German American Festival