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Published: 8/27/2009

44th German-American Festival kicks off Friday

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Put on your lederhosen and grab your beer steins. It's time again for the German-American Festival.

Not in a lederhosen mood? How about strudels, sauerkraut, or sausages? Polkas, pretzels, or pastries? Bratwursts, bands, or beer?

The annual event, which begins its 44th year tomorrow at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon, promises all of these. There's even something new - a baking contest Saturday afternoon for German strudels, tortes, kuchen (cake), and more.

"This was just another dimension. People like to be a little competitive," explained Tim Pecsenye, festival chairman.

Registration for the baking contest begins at 2:30 p.m., followed by judging an hour later. Not that Pecsenye plans on entering.

"I don't really do baking," he said. "I'd rather get my carbohydrates in liquid form."

For others like Pecsenye, there will be a huge variety of German beers available at the festival. Organizers expect there to be about 25 different ones on site, a tribute to the role that beer and breweries have played in Germany historically.

"It's a huge part of people's heritage," said David Hendricks, the event's beer chairman. "Different communities ... that's how they're almost identified."

He said the variety of tastes the beers provide may surprise some visitors.

"There is a beer for every palate out there," he said. There promises to be mountains of food to supplement the drinks, including about eight different kinds of sausage. Last year, the festival went through 10,000 bratwursts, 6,500 large, smoked sausages, and two tons of homemade German potato salad.

"Nobody can go home hungry," Pecsenye said.

They might go home tired, though, thanks to an exhaustive schedule of activities and entertainment. There's the centuries-old Swiss Steinstossen stone-throwing competition starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and a Hummel look-alike contest for children ages 2 to 10 at 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

There's music too, with continuous tunes from local Germanic and ethnic bands and a huge dance floor to entertain the more than 25,000 people that are expected to attend this year.

"We have three bands playing at all times," Pecsenye said.

Among the performers will be Die Sandler, a five-piece band from Germany that will take the stage each day of the festival, and Polka Floyd, which plays Sunday.

The longstanding event, held at 3624 Seaman St., is sponsored by seven German-American and Swiss-American societies in the area.

Contact Ryan E. Smith at:

ryansmith@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103



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