Monday, June 5, 2023

Toledo celebrates 56th Annual German-American Festival

The 56th Annual German-American Festival will be celebrated August 26th-28th at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon. Organized by the German-American Festival Society, it’s Northwest Ohio’s oldest and largest ethnic festival. Since 1966, the event has promoted authentic German and Swiss culture through food, drink, dance and music. 

Festival goers can fill their steins with Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, Warsteiner Pilsner, Hofbrau Oktoberfest or one of the other 50 German beers served at the festival. In addition to beer, homemade German and Swiss foods also contribute to the festival’s popularity. 

Masskrugstemmen, which loosely translates to the “lifting of a liter mug of beer,” is a well-known and competitive Bavarian sport. This event will take place on Friday night at 7:30 in The Arena. Credit: Photo courtesy of the German-American Festival Society.

“Our food is prepared on site. We don’t have any vendors. We do it ourselves,” Christa Luttmann, the GAF Vice Chairman and Marketing Committee Chairman said. Luttmann is also the Entertainment Chairman and Festival Secretary. 

This year’s spread will not disappoint. Potato pancakes made the old German way, Schnitzel sandwiches made to order on Kaiser rolls, Bratwurst, jalapeno Wurst, pretzels, homemade potato salad, Sauerkraut and Leberkäs platters will be served up throughout the weekend. Homemade pastries like Kuchen and strudel will also be available. 

Glockenspiel, Steinstossen and Hummel Look-Alikes 

Festival goers will enjoy a number of German and Swiss cultural events as they nosh on homemade foods. In addition to live bands, there will be live glockenspiel, Schuhplattler groups (authentic Bavarian dance) and German folk dance groups. 

Several contests will take place at the festival. One such is the crowd favorite Steinstossen, a centuries-old Swiss stone throwing contest. 

Luttmann recommends the Hummel Look-Alike Contest where children dress like an M.I. Hummel figurine and pose for a panel of judges. Children must hold the pose while being judged, a challenging and impressive feat for the little ones. 

“A lot of thought goes into preparing the child’s costume and props,” Luttmann added.  

“Our festival is a lot of fun. There’s something for every age, and I think we offer really good value for your money,” Luttmann said. Revenue generated from the festival supports the German and Swiss cultural center and other philanthropic programs in the Toledo area.

Traditional German dance will take place each day of the festival. Credit: Photo courtesy of the German-American Festival Society.

A Long-Standing Tradition  

The German American Festival began in 1966 when several German and Swiss clubs in the area decided to host one big picnic. The German-American Festival is now organized by the GAF Society, a group of seven German and Swiss clubs in the area. 

“There are more people in this area with German ancestry than any other nationality,” Luttmann said. Even if their ancestry goes back 100 years, “people still feel that pull.” 

The festival hours are Friday, August 26 from 6pm-1am and Saturday, August 27 from 2pm-1am. Alcohol sales end at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. On Sunday, August 28th, a German-language church service will be held at 10:30am, and the festival will commence from noon-8pm. Parking for the festival is free. Pets are not permitted, unless they are service animals. Oak Shade Grove is located at 3624 Seaman Rd. in Oregon, Ohio. 

German potato pancakes served with applesauce or sour cream are a popular food item at the festival. Credit: Photo courtesy of the German-American Festival Society.

Tickets will be available at the gate, but can also be purchased on the festival’s website. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult. Food & beverage and shuttle bus tickets can also be purchased in advance on the festival’s website. Shuttles will leave from multiple locations in Toledo. 

For additional ticket information and to view the event schedule for the festival, visit the German-American Festival’s website

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