THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo
If you joke with your iron-pumping pals that you prefer to limit your weight-lifting to 12-ounce brewskis, then it's your time to go for the gusto.
The German-American Festival will host what it is billing as northwest Ohio's first ever formal Masskrugstemmen contest in which entrants compete to determine who can hold a one-liter stein of beer straight out the longest.
But be warned. The heavy glass stein, containing nearly 34 ounces of brew, weighs closer to 5 pounds than 12 ounces. Most entrants in Masskrugstemmen contests—which loosely translates to “lifting of a mug of beer”— fold after five minutes or so. But the winner of a recent meet in Las Vegas held out for more than 15 minutes.
Separate contests for men and women are planned for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“We did this informally the last couple years, but this is the first time we're awarding trophies,” said Timothy Pecsenye, festival chairman. “It's an exercise where you think the burly guys are going to win. But it's usually the wiry guys who can hold it longer.”
But if you prefer to sample German and Swiss culture without working up a sweat, don't fear.
This grossvater (i.e., grandfather) of the local ethnic festival circuit, which is in its 45th year, dishes up something for just about every taste and age.
Scheduled for Friday through Sunday at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon, the festival offers continuous live ethnic music at three venues, dancing, German folk groups, rides, and culinary treats such as bratwurst and schnitzel.
For the record, festival-goers are expected to consume 275 gallons of sauerkraut, two tons of German potato salad, 5,000 pairs of landjaeger, 50,000 potato pancakes, and assorted other American and Germanic delights.
And, of course, there will be beer. Last year, 650 barrels and cases were downed.
Fourteen-ounce cups of Labatt Blue light beer will sell for $3 each, while German imports will fetch $4 apiece.
“We've kept beer prices the same for the last four years,” Mr. Pecsenye says. “This is the wrong economy to raise prices.”
One change is that non-North American imports account for 50 percent of beer sales now, up from 20 percent in the earlier years of the festival.
The relatively cheap price of beer helps make up for the somewhat steep festival admission price: $7 ($6 advance; free for children 12 and under with an adult).
But residents of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan have voted with their feet. Attendance last year, at 30,000, was up nearly 70 percent from earlier in the decade.
The chairman of the festival at 3624 Seaman Road, attributes that to the end of construction on I-280 and a spate of bad weather that plagued earlier festivals.
“We're a well-regarded festival,” Mr. Pecsenye says. “We think we provide people value for their dollar.”
The festival, sponsored by the seven German- and Swiss-American organizations that comprise the German-American Festival Society, is carried out with the assistance of 3,000 volunteers.
New, this year, will be fireworks Friday at nightfall. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday; 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday; and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday.
A parade and opening ceremonies will be at 8 p.m. Friday. Opening night acts, which each perform from 6 p.m. to midnight, will be Sounds of Jay Fox of Fort Wayne, Ind., in the Wein Garten; Detroit's Spass in the Fest Zelt main tent; and Sound of Sorgenbrecher of Detroit in the Hofbrauhalle.
Appearing for the first time from 7 p.m. to close Saturday will be the Alpen Echos of Cincinnati.
For children, there will be clowns and face-painting.
Returning to the festival once again will be the Swiss Steinstossen stone-throwing contest at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; German dessert-baking contest at 3:30 p.m. Saturday; and a Hummel figurine look-alike contest for children at 4:15 p.m. Sunday.
IF YOU GO:
Where: Oak Shade Grove, 3624 Seaman Rd., Oregon
When: Friday, 6 p.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m.-1 a.m.; Sunday, noon-11 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $7; children under 12, free, with adult; seniors with Golden Buckeye Card or equivalent, $6 on Sunday only; other adults can get $1 discount by buying tickets at Web site.
Shuttles: A $6 per person shuttle service runs from Arnie's Saloon, Westgate; Berger's Olde Tyme, 1742 West Laskey Rd.; and Lucas County Recreation Center, Maumee.
Parking: On-site, and also at Starr Elementary School, Fassett Middle School, and Clay High School.
Contact Gary Pakulski at email@example.com or 419-724-6082.