German-American Festival rolls out the beer and brats Aug. 24-26Written by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
A Swiss cheese-eating contest and a new flavor of bratwurst will be among the offerings at this year’s German-American Festival, set for Aug. 24-26 at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon.
The 47th annual event will also feature all the popular contests and favorite Swiss-German foods and drinks of past years, said Jack Renz, marketing/public relations committee chairman for the festival.
“We’re in our 47th year. That’s quite a statement,” Renz said. “For 47 years we have continually produced a quality product, and I think what we really strive to do is offer something different each time. Even though the public looks for their favorite things and relishes what they like, they also know that each year we try to do some new things. We’re very proud of what people get for the money. They get a heck of a bang for their dollar.”
The winner of the new eating contest, set for 7 p.m. Aug. 25, will be the contestant who eats an 8-ounce block of Swiss cheese the fastest, Renz said.
The new brat will be a Swiss cheese and mushroom bratwurst handmade by Tank’s Meats in Elmore.
“It has an absolutely phenomenal taste,” Renz said. “That’s what’s really fun about being part of the German-American Festival. Each year we try to bring something new to the community to try to keep it cutting-edge.”
The festival will be open 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Aug. 24, with a parade and opening ceremonies set for 8 p.m. The event will continue from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Aug. 25 and noon to 11 p.m. Aug. 26.
Daily admission is $7. Advance tickets, available online at germanamericanfestival.net or at various area restaurants and bars, are $6 for one day, $10 for two days or $15 for three days. Children 12 and younger are free when accompanied by an adult. Active military, police, fire and EMS personnel with ID will be admitted free on Aug. 26 and senior citizens with a Golden Buckeye card will be admitted for $1 off admission Aug. 26. Round-trip shuttle tickets are available for $6 and leave from several Toledo area locations.
The traditional Swiss Steinstossen, or Swiss stone-throwing contest is set for 3 p.m. on both Aug. 25 and 26. Men will throw 138-pound stones while women will throw 75-pound stones.
“That one is the most popular contests, followed by the Masskrugstemmen,” said Festival Chairman Timothy Pecsenye.
In the Masskrugstemmen event, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on both Aug. 24 and 25, contestants lift a liter of beer with one arm stretched parallel to the floor and hold it as long as they can.
The Hummel Lookalike Contest for children age 2 to 10 will be held 4 p.m. Aug. 26. Prizes are awarded for the most authentic look-a-like with a focus on overall look, costume, props, pose and facial expressions.
There’s also the Brezeln Essen, or soft pretzel-eating contest, set for 9 a.m. Aug. 25 and the German dessert baking contest at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 25.
Each hour, festival organizers come on stage to perform a rendition of the scenes played out by the wooden characters in Munich’s Glockenspiel, or city clock.
“We come out on the hour and do a little performance to salute the hour,” Renz said. “There’s crowd participation. It’s kind of a crowd-pleaser. It’s really becoming something people look forward to watching.”
Bands include Austrian Express from Milwaukee and Phenix from Chicago. Children’s activities include rides, face painting, a clown and more. A German language worship service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 26. There will also be soccer matches on Aug. 25 and 26.
The festival, a fundraiser for the German and Swiss cultural center in Oregon, along with a variety of scholarship, athletic and philanthropic programs in the Toledo area, is operated by the nonprofit GAF Society and sponsored by the seven German-American and Swiss-American societies in Toledo.
“We’re probably one of the best-known festivals in the area. We’ve been in existence longer than the other ethnic festivals,” Pecsenye said. “People have a fantastic time. They enjoy themselves. You see a lot of happy people, a lot of smiling people with their friends or meeting new friends while exploring German culture, German music, German foods. Just bring a guest and come to the fest!”
For more information, visit germanamericanfestival.net.