Toledo Held at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon, Ohio, the German American
Festival (GAF) proved yet again why it has become the oldest and largest
ethnic festival in the Toledo area. From Aug. 24 through 26, more than
34,000 attendees wandered the festival grounds and enjoyed the best in Swiss
and German culture. From entertainment by Austrian Express from Milwaukee,
to a multitude of authentic dining options and plenty of German and domestic
beers, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
We were really pleased with the size of the crowds at this years
festival, said Chairman Tim Pecsenye. We were especially happy to welcome
many service men and women in Toledo for Navy Week. The crisp white
uniforms stood out among the crowds and allowed the locals to identify and
thank the individuals for their service to this country. I hope they didnt
mind being constantly stopped by visitors wanting to offer thanks for
service and maybe a salute.
Just as in past years, food was consumed in impressive quantities at the
festival. Over 5 tons of potatoes were used to make handmade potato
pancakes, hand-cut Pommes Frites (French Fries) and 4,000 pounds of homemade
German potato salad. Guests enjoyed over 275 gallons of Sauerkraut along
with more than19,000 bratwurst. An impressive 1,500 of the new Swiss cheese
and mushroom bratwurst were purchased, outsold only by the popular Schnitzel
Sandwich, which came in at 1,900 sold. Sweet cravings were satisfied with
more than 3,500 servings of cake, cookies and other desserts.
People are always looking for a way to stretch their entertainment budget,
said Pecsenye. The GAF has worked hard to keep prices constant over the
years, while at the same time offering additional saving opportunities with
the help of texting campaigns and social media outlets. And the event is a
great way for local residents to enjoy a vacation-like atmosphere in their
own backyard. Where else are you going to see a Swiss Steinstossen (rock
throwing) and Swiss cheese eating contest but at the German-American
The increased number of service lines made food service more efficient and
enjoyable for guests and workers alike. The addition of a photo booth was a
great source of entertainment for festival-goers. The photos were displayed
on large screens throughout the grounds, along with other candid photos.
This added to the spirit of the festival and was a great way for guests to
enjoy every aspect of the event.
We encourage our guests to come out and enjoy themselves and we want them
to do so responsibly and return home safely, Pecsenye said. Im happy to
report that the shuttle service was well received again this year, with
buses often filled to capacity.
The kids enjoyed face painting, strolling performers and balloon animals.
Shrieks of delight could be heard from the amusement park rides as the young
and young at heart braved the Merry-go-round, Tilt-a-whirl and the 80-foot
Social media proved to be an important aspect of this years event
promotion. The German American Festival Facebook page was abuzz in the weeks
leading up to the event. It was here that people, from near and far, could
get real time updates about the event. Fans shared, liked and posted content
surrounding the festival at an impressive rate. Followers to the new GAF
Society Twitter page climbed throughout the weekend as guests tweeted with
the hashtag #GAF.
The GAF is all about connecting and celebrating a culture we take great
pride in, explained Pecsenye. It is great to see the next generation
making these connections online. It means we have successfully transitioned
to an era of technology while still preserving our traditions.
The Masskrugstemmen, which loosely translates to the lifting of a liter mug
of beer, took place on Friday and Saturday. Contestants held the Masskrug
with one arm completely stretched out and parallel to the floor. The current
U.S. record is just over 14 minutes, but contestants made an impressive
1st Denise Miller
2nd Carrie Quigg
3rd Stacy Glass
1st Luke Wunderlin 4:43
2nd Rodney Varnes 4:28
3rd John Reef 4:13
Saturday - Winners
1st Amber Landsman
2nd Cynthia Marvey 2:09
3rd Jeanine Smith 2:02
1st Aaron Hensley 5:05
2nd Scott Hoffman 4:55
3rd Robert Pawlinski 4:33
For those who were
interested in more of a challenge, the Swiss Steinstossen took place on
Saturday and Sunday. The stones thrown in this traditional contest weigh in
at 138 pounds for the men and 75 pounds for the women.
3rd Janice Sowers
1st Zach Diekman
Jennings Jr. 12-3.5
3rd Joe Bronowski
1st Joe Bronowski
2nd Nick Radel
This years judges for the 4th German Cookie Baking Contest were Dana Illiev
and Laurie Jacobs, owners of Cake In A Cup and Dan Neman, food editor for
The Blade. The GAF Society would like to thank Venturas on Bancroft for
their donation of prizes and the Sentinel-Tribune for cookbook donations.
Suplica of Temperance, MI Spitzbuben, German jam cookies
2nd Kristie Ruedy
of Toledo, OH Spitzbuben
Deal of Toledo, OH Vanille Kirferl
This year saw the introduction of two new events that are sure to become
festival favorites, the Brezlen Essen and Swiss cheese eating contest. Both
events were a huge success and the festival committee looks forward to the
contests growing even bigger in the coming years. Spectators in the
Hofbrauhalle looked on as Branden finished 8 soft baked pretzels over
8,000 pretzels were sold over the weekend in the allotted 5-minute time
frame. Crowds gathered in the Swiss Essen Haus to watch as contestants
competed to see who could eat 8 ounces of Swiss cheese in the fastest time.
1st Kevin Gross
2nd Don Zellers
This year was the second for the GAF to sponsor 50/50 raffles. Over the
course of the three-day event nine winners took home a combined total of
Henderson Holland, OH
2nd Donn Cranor
3rd Matt Tylka
Ottawa Lake, MI
Klaege Walbridge, OH
2nd David Steer
3rd Franz Papesch
1st Hector Lopez
2nd Denny Czesak
3rd Mike Halka
We would like to acknowledge the countless volunteers who contribute so
much time and effort each year. Without them an event of this success and
magnitude would not be possible and we would love to see you all back next
year, explains Pecsenye. We would also like to thank the administrators
and employees of the City of Oregon, the Oregon City School District and
employees, and neighbors in the area for their patience and help throughout
this past weekend.
Additionally, the GAF provided monetary donations to Northwood High School
and Cardinal Stritch High School Girls Soccer Teams and the Clay Athletic
Boosters in appreciation for all their time donated towards clean up and
St. Louis Helping Hands Ministry, St. Pauls Community Center and Food for
Thought, and their partner organizations, benefited from the leftover food.
The festival donated almost a truckload of items to help with feeding the
homeless, low-income and elderly in the Greater Toledo Area.
It was another great year for the German-American Festival, and according to
chairman Pecsenye, the committee has already started work on next years
festival. The 48th Annual German-American Festival will take place Aug.