NEW ULM - As polka music played Sunday at the Brown County Fairgrounds, a Bavarian Blast board member talked about the festival in recent years.
"At our Thursday night pre-party with Church of Cash and Chris Brooks and the Silver City Boys, attendance was more than 800, up from 2012. We don't have attendance figures for the other days yet," said Bavarian Blast Executive Board Secretary Amy Furth.
"I talked to people Saturday from Sioux Falls, Wisconsin, and Texas," she said.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Members of the New Ulm Fire Department showcase their speed and their 1870 pumper Sunday at the Bavarian Blast Grand Parade in New Ulm.
Sunday's parade attracted hundreds of spectators who lined the streets to watch the New Ulm Battery display their 1860s era cannons and to listen to music played by local bands that enjoyed the comfort of a flatbed trailer. The parade featured vehicles advertising local businesses and organizations. Antique cars jogged memories of some parade watchers while top-down convertibles served as modes of transportation for city officials.
The parade started and ended at the fest grounds where the music played on, and the dancers kicked up their heels for the last time at Bavarian Blast 2013.
And, of course, Blast food featured the expected brats, kraut, German potato salad, Schell's beer and Morgan Creek wine to please fest-goers' palates. However, the Blast's fare went beyond the German variety with vendor Ted Bergstrom offering Philly (cheese steak) sandwiches and skin-on potato fries. A Mankato vendor sold frozen yogurt.
Another new wrinkle was adding Bavarian Specialties of Frankenmuth, Mich. The business features traditional and contemporary lederhosen, dirndl (traditional German dresses) and accessories including swim trunks, key chains, hats, pins, scarves, purses, wall clocks, stuffed animals, artistic figures, beer steins and cookbooks.
Furth was pleased with Saturday afternoon's participation and spectator numbers of wiener dog racing, sauerkraut eating and beer barrel rolling contests.
"We had 25 sauerkraut eating contestants plus lots of people watching everything," Furth said.
She quickly pointed out that the event could not be done without lots of local volunteers, sponsors and community support.
"We just couldn't have this without all their volunteer help," Furth said.
"We've booked (Grammy-nominated musician) Alex Meixner and Molly B for next year. We'd like to bring Bob and the Beachcombers back too," Furth added. The 2014 Bavarian Blast will be held July 18 to 20.
The Brown County Free Fair is set for Aug. 7 to 11.
New Ulm's 32nd Annual Oktoberfest takes place Oct. 4 and 5 and 11 and 12 at the Holiday Inn.
The Cambria Crush Annual Great Grape Stomp takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5 with competitive grape stomps at 1 and 3 p.m. at Morgan Creek Vineyard near Cambria.
Oktoberfest activities include tours of Schell's Brewery.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).