MINSTER — Ideal fall weather is forecast for the upcoming weekend as the Minster Oktoberfest, which annually draws more than 80,000 people to the Auglaize County village, kicks off its three-day run Friday evening.
The festival celebrates the community’s German heritage, and this year’s event features a couple of new attractions. Awaiting visitors is a new beer garden featuring 29 varieties of beer, many directly from Germany.
Activities for younger children — face-painting, balloon animals, a crane game and more — will be featured for the first time this year at the new Kids Corner, and all the traditional festival favorites will return, from non-stop musical entertainment and food galore to popular attractions such as the Beer Tray Relay and the Jug Hoist competitions.
Oktoberfest committee co-presidents Sue Brandewie and Joyce Schwartz have a combined 50-plus years of helping plan the annual event, which has grown to be one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in the state.
They volunteered to head up this year’s event “and go out with a splash,” Brandewie joked.
“Joyce and I have been involved for so many years but now we’re looking to get some new blood involved and hand the planning over to the younger generation,” she said.
“We’ve seen the festival grow and, in my opinion, become bigger and better,” said Schwartz.
Visitors will find a new entertainment venue at this year’s Oktoberfest. The Das Biergarten will welcome acoustic musicians to its stage throughout the weekend. Other musical acts will perform in the gazebo, Heritage Beer Garden and the Spass Platz, all located along Fourth Street in downtown Minster.
The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with a variety of entertainment acts. Roger Demange will perform in Das Biergarten from 6-9 p.m. and Brian Papesh will take the gazebo stage from 7-11 p.m. Performing from 8-11:30 p.m. in the Heritage Beer Garden will be 127 North.
The featured entertainer on Friday night will be Karma’s Pawn, who will entertain festival-goers from 8-11:30 p.m. in the Spass Platz.
Registration for the Oktoberfest car show begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, followed at 10 a.m. by the Little Miss Oktoberfest contest in the Knights of Columbus hall. Official opening ceremonies will take place at noon in the gazebo, followed immediately by the Miss Oktoberfest pageant at Spass Platz.
Beer tray relay races will be held at 2 p.m. along Fourth Street, followed at 4 p.m. by the jug hoist competition.
The jug hoist was the brainchild of Brandewie and Schwartz several years ago.
“We don’t wanna brag, but we pretty much started that,” said Brandewie. “We serve beer in half-gallon jugs, and in the beer hoist the participants have to hold their arm out straight while holding a jug. The last one standing wins. It’s pretty competitive.”
Saturday entertainment will be provided from 1-6 p.m. when the Schnapps Band performs in the gazebo. From 3:30-7 p.m. the Klaberheads will take the Spass Platz stage and from 4-8 p.m. the Brothers in Law will perform at Das Biergarten. The Fest Meisters will perform from 7-11 in the gazebo and Zach and Steve Rosenbeck will entertain from 8-11:30 p.m. in the Heritage Beer Garden.
Schnickelfritz will wrap up the evening on stage at the Spass Platz from 8-11:30 p.m.
The annual 10K run will kick off the festival’s final day at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, leaving from Minster High School. The Reatles will perform in Das Biergarten from11 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Oktoberfest parade will take to the streets of Minster at 2 p.m. Serving as grand marshal for the parade will be Jack Buschur, whom Schwartz called “an icon in the community and an all-around great guy.”
“He’s done so much for this community. It’s very fitting that Jack is the grand marshal,” said Brandewie.
The parade starts at the corner of Cleveland and Fourth streets, travels down Fourth Street and then turns left on Main Street.
“The crowd is usually three-deep on each side of the street for the parade,” Brandewie said.
Concluding the festival entertainment on Sunday will be Schnickelfritz from 3:30-8 p.m. in the gazebo; the Klaberheads from 3:30-8 p.m. in the Spass Platz; Jim McGowen from 4-7 p.m. in Das Biergarten and Kyle Koesters from 4-8 p.m. in the Heritage Beer Garden.
IF YOU GO
What: Minster Oktoberfest
Where: Downtown Minster
When: Friday, Sept. 30 – Sunday, Oct. 2