German-American Festival gearing up for 54th year

Kari Myers

        Toledo’s oldest and largest ethic festival is back for another year of authentic German food, beer and fun.
        The 54th German-American Festival, sponsored by the seven German- and Swiss-American Societies of greater Toledo, expects upwards of 30,000 paid attendees at this year’s festival, set for Aug. 23-25 at Oak Shade Grove, 3624 Seaman Rd., in Oregon.        
        Every summer the GAF Society promotes the German and Swiss cultures while generating revenue to support the German and Swiss Cultural center in Oregon, as well as a wide variety of scholarship, athletic and other philanthropic programs in the Toledo area.
        Festival hours are 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday; noon-1 a.m. Saturday and noon-11 p.m. Sunday.
        The Opening Ceremony and Parade begin at 8 p.m. Friday, shortly after the Masskrugstemmen (Bavarian Mug Lifting Contest). The Glockenspiel Toledo starts at 9 p.m.
        Saturday is chock-full of fun events, beginning with the Beer Mile that starts at 1 p.m. Participants are asked to drink a beer, run a quarter mile, and repeat the process for one mile for $35. For $20, participants can run a mini mile, where they will drink two beers and run a quarter mile. Prospective runners can get more information and sign up at
        At 2 p.m. Saturday, festivities continue with the Glockenspiel Toledo. The Swiss Steinstossen (Stone Throwing Contest) starts at 3 p.m., followed by Saturday’s Masskrugstemmen at 7:30 p.m. The last event of the day is the Brezeleisen (Pretzel-Eating Contest) which starts at 9 p.m.
        Sunday kicks off early with the German-language Worship service at 10:30 a.m. Free admission is available after service to those who attend. At 1 p.m., the M.I. Hummel Look-A-Like Contest begins for children ages of 2-10. Participants are invited to dress and pose like a Hummel figurine for a panel of judges. Sunday’s Glockenspiel Toledo is at 2 p.m. and is followed by the Swiss Steinstossen at 3 p.m.
        The festival offers many more things to enjoy for all ages, such as musical and dance performances, amusement rides, clowns, face painting and jugglers, to name a few.
        And then, there’s the food. Come hungry as the GAF has tons of fan favorites, including schnitzel sandwiches, smoked ham shanks, various bratwurst, pretzels, funnel cakes, Leberkäs platters, Leberkässemmel (Leberkäs on a roll), sauerkraut, Landjäger, ice cream, freshly popped popcorn, and the GAF special Swiss/Mozzarella and mushroom bratwurst. Plan to make a stop at the Vienna Café and the Swiss and German bakeries.
        When it comes to beverages, the GAF aims to please, with more than 50 German beers, wine coolers and hard seltzers, wine, soft drinks, Frappuccino, water and more.
         This year, the festival is introducing its exclusively brewed Chocolate Cherry Festbier. Brewed by Earnest Brew Works, the German-American Festival beer honors the Black Forest region of Germany (and the GAF’s popular restaurant) with the beer brewed with black cherries and chocolate, resulting in a beer that not only smells like Black Forest cake, but offers a distinct chocolate and cherry aftertaste.
         On Friday and Saturday, alcohol sales cease at midnight. For $3 cash, designated drivers 21 and older can register at the information booth for a wristband and receive three tickets redeemable for nonalcoholic beverages.
        The drawing for the GAF Raffle will be Sunday night at 9 p.m. The Grand Prize for this raffle is a two-year lease of a BMW X2 from Yark BMW. The second prize is three-hour, six-passenger limo service, courtesy of Childers, and a complimentary dinner for two at either Final Cut Steak & Seafood or Epic Buffet and a VIP table at a Hollywood Casino Concert Event, courtesy of Hollywood Casino Toledo. Raffle tickets are $5 each or three for $12 and can be purchased online or at the festival until 6 p.m. Sunday.
        A shuttle service to and from various Toledo-area locations will be available all weekend for $8 round trip. Locations and more info are available on the festival website.
        Admission to the GAF is $10 per person at the gate or $8 through advance online purchase. Children 12 years of age and under will be admitted at no charge all weekend when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Guests can also get two-day ($14) and three-day ($19) admission passes online only.
        Guests who would like to start enjoying the fun a day earlier – Thursday, Aug. 22 from 5:30-10 p.m. – can purchase a GAF VIP Preview Night Ticket for $45 or $25 when they purchase with the $75 weekend VIP package.
        Special discounts are offered on Sunday to active military, police, fire, or EMS personnel and all U.S. military veterans will be admitted free (with proof of employment) at the gate. A $1 discount for general admission tickets will also be given at the gate to all senior citizens (65+) with proof of ID/age.
        For more information or to sign up for contests, visit, or contact Jack Renz, Festival Chairman


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