Ah, the first weekend of summer. School is finally out, and you can take a deep breath. Inhale. Mmm, did you smell that? Those sizzling bratwursts (sausages) served with hot pomme frites (French fries); the giant weiner schnitzel (fried pork loin) and a side of warm German Kartoffelsalat (potato salad); those sweet fastnaghts (donuts) covered in powdered sugar; and the fruity, flaky apfelstrudel (apple strudel) filled with baked cinnamon apples? It must be time for Germanfest again at Fort Wayne’s Headwaters Park!
Come on out and play!
Everywhere, colorful costumes decorate the scene while laughter and upbeat German music fills the air. From the city-wide Chicken Dance last Sunday that kicked the festivities off, to the traditional German church service at Emmanuel Lutheran Church this Sunday that will mark the end, Germanfest is a week full of silliness and fun. Every day offers a unique contest in which anyone meeting the age requirements can participate, but the day that young families will enjoy most is Family Fest on Saturday, June 11th.
The fun starts at 8:00 in the morning with two walks to participate in. The Volksmarch is a 10K that anyone, any age, any size may be part of. Walkers may start anytime between 8:00 am and 11:00 am, but must finish by 2:00 pm. Those who complete the walk will receive medals and stamp books. The 5K Visionwalk requires registration at 8:30 am, and begins at 10:00 am to raise funds for the vision impaired. Also, keep your ears open for the sound of stringed instruments being tuned. The Suzuki Strings students ages 5-14 will be performing various German pieces on the Main Stage from 11:00 – 11:30 am. Go listen, enjoy and encourage these young people on. At noon, the Bake Off judging starts near the Cultural Tent in the Festival Plaza, and prizes will be awarded at 1:30. Jim Barron’s hilarious hour-long magic show also starts at noon in the Lower Level. Then between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, all sorts of activities will capture your attention: free carriage rides, wall climbing, the Titanic Adventure slide, games that test soccer skills, the Gherken Splatt pickle paddle game, face painting, fire engine tour, Kevin Harris’ balloon sculpting, the Shire of Shadowed Stars’ medieval weapons and fencing reenactments, and of course the Kiddie Rides which cost a $1.00 per ride.
Have your kids expend all their wiggles and fired-up energy during the early afternoon, and then your whole family will enjoy taking a break to watch the National Wiener Dog Finals that begin at 2:00 pm and end at 5:30 pm. The search for the fastest little “hot dog” is on! Then at 6:00 pm, come watch the Trauben Tromp (Grape Stomping Contest) in the Culture Tent. Nine three-person teams will race to see who can stomp the most juice out of a vat full of grapes, and this hysterical crowd pleaser is a contest you won’t want to miss.
Speaking of contests you do not want to miss, the Polka Like A Star dancing contest will start at 7:00 pm on the Festival Plaza. Now, before you shrug that off with an “I don’t know how to dance,” you should know that the American Style Ballroom Dancing Studio will be there to conduct a short lesson before the contest starts. This is your chance to score big points with your date (even if the two of you do not end up scoring any points with the judges)!
That’s it for the day. No one under 21 is permitted at the festival after 9:30 pm, but your family will be at home sleeping soundly in their beds Saturday night with tummies full of yummy German food and smiles on their weary faces. Your wallet will sleep soundly too, because the activities for Saturday are held in the meadow below the main festival tent and are open to the public free of charge. Entrance to the Main Tent which houses the Main Stage, food area, culture tent and beer sales will cost $2.00 before 5:00 pm and $5.00 after 5:00 pm. Military personnel with ID are admitted free of charge and children twelve and under are also admitted free.
Starting the summer off right with your family, and temperatures not in the upper nineties? Who could ask for more?