44th German-American Festival Set for End of August
The German-American Festival (GAF), the Toledo area’s oldest, largest and greatest ethnic festival returns to its familiar Oregon grounds for three days the weekend of Friday, August 28th through Sunday the 30th. As always, authentic German food, beverages and entertainment will be in full abundance, featuring continuous live music at three stages from local Germanic and ethnic bands, an old world-style Bier & Wein Garten, the Import Haus featuring steins, linens and other gift items, new amusement park rides, and the fest’s signature 56’ by 40’ wooden dance floor in the main Fest Zelt tent – a 100’ by 265’ clear span without poles. According to Timothy Pecsenye, festival chair, this year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever.
“The GAF is a Toledo tradition that the community just seems to rally around,” Pecsenye said. “In fact, local newspaper readers have voted it ‘best ethnic festival’ in the area for 11 out of the last 12 years. The sights, smells and tastes of the German and Swiss cultures are right here to be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s what keeps everyone coming back for more.”
“More” is a key word when you’re talking about the GAF. This year, the festival opens at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 28, with a parade and opening ceremonies scheduled for 8 p.m. Other attractions include a Hummel look-alike contest for children two to 10 years old, the centuries old authentic Swiss Steinstossen stone-throwing contest, a raffle with a grand prize of $2,000, a first-time ever baking contest on Saturday and, of course, one of the largest collection of German beers and wines you’re likely to ever find in one place.
“We’re also excited to have Die Sandler, a five-piece band from Steinach, the ‘town of wells’ in the Thuringian Forest, headline entertainment on the weekend,” Pecsenye said. “And, our traditional German-language worship service is something that’s going to be very special. To be held on Sunday, August 30 at 10:30 a.m., the service will be highlighted by music by our own Teutonia Männerchor & Damenchor and the Toledo Swiss Singers, along with 50 more singers from the Chorgemeinschaft Texas. Anyone attending will get free admission to the fest after the service.”
Highlighting the Sunday schedule of entertainment at the Hofräuhalle (formerly the Schwabenhalle Outdoor Pavilion) will be the accordion-driven musical equivalent of Pink Floyd – Polka Floyd – performing from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. To accommodate this “must-see” group, the fest is even staying open two hours later, instead of the traditional closing time of 8 p.m.
“In another exciting development, we’ve signed an exclusive arrangement with Build-a-Bear Workshop® to sell our mascot raccoons, Moritz and Mitzi, in stuffed animal form in Mitzi’s Hütte,” Pecsenye continued. “It’s sure to be a real treat for children of all ages.”
More than 70 acres of free, lighted parking will be available with entrances from Starr Avenue, Corduroy Road and Seaman Streets. People movers will be running continuously to drop guests off at the main gate. For others who wish to save themselves the drive, shuttle bus service will be provided from Arnie’s at Westgate on Central Avenue, Berger’s Olde Tyme Bar & Grill on Laskey, and the Lucas County Recreation Center. Shuttles will depart from parking pick-up locations from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, August 28 and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 29, returning from the festival grounds at 1 a.m. both nights. Sunday shuttle service will run Arnie’s at Westgate only from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“Most of all, we want every guest to not only have fun, but return home safely,” Pecsenye cautioned. “The Guest Services booth will again have information for responsible alcohol consumption and will distribute free coupons to the ‘Designated Driver’ in any group for three complimentary soft drinks to enjoy while visiting the festival.”
Discount advance purchase admission and GAF shuttle tickets are available for $6 each at The Andersons stores in Maumee on Conant, in Toledo on Talmadge Road and the Woodville Mall, in Sylvania at The Andersons Market, in Columbus locations on Brice Road and on Sawmill, and in Lima at the American Mall.
Advance purchase admission and GAF shuttle tickets are also available at Arnie’s Westgate, Berger’s Olde Tyme, Shawn’s Irish Tavern and Ventura’s Original Mexican Cantina. General admission tickets will be available at the gate for $7 ($1 off with the donation of a non-perishable food item on Friday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from Noon to 1 p.m.; donations go to Food for Thought Food Pantries). Active military, police, fire department or EMS personnel will be admitted at no charge with proof of employment on Sunday. Senior citizens holding Golden Buckeye cards or equivalent will receive a $1 discount at the gate on Sunday. Children 12 years of age and under admitted at no charge all weekend when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Festival hours: Friday, August 28, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday, August 29, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday, August 30, Noon to 11 p.m. To learn more, visit www.gafsociety.org/fest.htm or www.germanamericanfestival.net.
About the German American Festival. The festival is operated by the G.A.F Society, which is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. It is sponsored by the seven German- and Swiss-American societies in Toledo, and is intended to promote and enhance the German and Swiss cultures, as well as generate revenue to support the German and Swiss cultural center in Oregon, along with a variety of scholarship, athletic and philanthropic programs in the Toledo area.