McGinnis: By schnitzel! German American Festival features great eats and drinksWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For all the events that take place at the German-American Festival — the annual celebration of all things Deutschland taking place this year at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon, Aug. 22 -24 — what brings the most joy out of the average attendee is the food. Sigh. Yes, the food.
Just ask Tim Pecsenye, the festival chairman. He’s been involved with the event since 1976 in one capacity or another. Even when he moved to New Jersey for a while, he stayed involved. Inquired as to what foods will be available at the event for this, the festival’s 49th year, he rattled almost 10 items without even thinking, with a longing tone in his voice. Potato pancakes. Sausage. Barbeque chicken. Swiss sandwiches. Baked goods. All made fresh, thank you very much.
“One thing is that our committee, for our festival, does not have food vendors,” Pecsenye said. “Every food operation that we have — and I mean funnel cakes, schnitzel sandwiches, all of those kinds of things — every one of those is prepared by our folks. We don’t have food vendors come in, we don’t have the trucks come in or anything like that, like most of the festivals do.
“And our people conceive of it, run it, do the ordering of products. Basically, we run everything.”
It takes a great deal of dedication to keep a celebration like the GAF running for nearly half a century. Over 3,000 volunteers help make the festival a reality each year. It’s a process that continues virtually year round, Pecsenye said.
“We start looking at it even while the Festival is going on, of what changes we can make for next year, what needs to be made better, what needs to service the people better. And so that’s an important part of the Festival. We have Committee meetings just about every month.
“We have a very hard-working committee,” he added. “A quarter or a third of the population in this area refers to themselves as either German or Swiss heritage, when it comes time for census. … People like our entertainment, they like our music. They love our food. And we work very hard to make sure it’s a quality event. And then, you add in a certain liquid adult beverage …”
Well yes, the presence of such a beautiful hops-and-barley concoction certainly helps enliven the festivities. But the music which will fill the air throughout the weekend will be doing its part as well, with performances from favorites like the Brother’s Grimm, the Jay Fox Band, the Austrian Express, the Polish American Concert Band and more providing the merriment its soundtrack. This year’s featured performers are the Alex Meixner Band out of Palm City, Florida.
Working to keep everything running smoothly for the thousands of attendees who will pack Oak Shade Grove, Pecsenye won’t have much time to enjoy the music himself, however, or much of anything else — which he claimed is fine by him. “I’m sort of an event planner type of a person. I sort of enjoy seeing what happens with events like this, and how it works. Even if I go to someone else’s event, I’m looking at the back room stuff rather than just enjoying it.”