LAKEFIELD — It’s time to dig out the lederhosen and the dirndls. There’s going to be a polka party, mixed in with some country tunes.
Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lakefield is gearing up to host its third annual Oktoberfest celebration from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 28 in Lakefield's North City Park.
Featuring the music of the Larry Olsen Band of New Ulm from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the Jolly Zuks from 4 to 8 p.m., the celebration of German culture includes German foods, German beer, German contests for adults, games for kids and a craft and vendor fair.
The craft fair and kids games are open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., outdoor food booths will be selling kielbasa and cabbage, funnel cakes and big pretzels, among other options, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the beer garden is open from noon to 8 p.m. Authentic German food — including sauerbraten subs (meatballs topped with red cabbage), German potato salad, German ham and cheese sandwiches, beer cheese soup, pretzel onion beer soup, seasoned pork on a stick and, for dessert, apple streusel, German chocolate cake and black forest cake options — will be served from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the shelter house concession stand.
In the beer garden, three varieties of German beer will be on hand from Schell’s Brewery, including its Oktoberfest beer, with a pair of craft beer options as well.
The Oktoberfest celebration is a fundraiser for Immanuel Lutheran Church and its private school, with proceeds also used to hire musicians to play at the event. Volunteers staff the food booths, the beer garden and the games, and also provide free shuttle service for attendees who might have to park further distances from the city park. There is no cover charge to come and enjoy an afternoon and evening of music.
Hoping for nice weather, Oktoberfest chairwoman Dory Poppe said organizers are bringing in a big top tent this year to house the craft and vendor fair, after last year’s cold temperatures put a damper on the outside show. Vendors include a variety of home-based businesses, as well as crafters and perhaps some farmers market fare, depending on what’s ready next week.
“We have a huge tent and the tent is full,” Poppe said, adding that overflow space was created outside for some vendors.
Six different games and a barrel train will be operating during the day for the kids, and there are also a couple of games of skill offered for teens. The activities are led by students at Immanuel Lutheran School, with 100% of the proceeds earned going back to the school to help fund the “extras” like field trips or special activities.
Two German-themed contests are planned for adults. The stein holding contest, which requires individuals to hold a 20-ounce stein full of beer straight out in front of them until there is only one winner, begins at 3 p.m. That will be followed by the hammer pounding competition at 3:30 p.m., which will have competitors using a ball peen hammer to pound a spike into a large tree stump.
“They get one hit at a time and continue to go around (the stump),” explained Poppe. “The first to get the spike into the stump level is the winner of that game.”
It isn’t the strongest man or woman who wins the game, Poppe said. It’s all about accuracy.
Throughout the day, visitors may purchase raffle tickets for the opportunity to win a grocery shopping spree, grill, drill set or some of the nearly $2,000 in gift certificates available. The drawing, planned to start at 8 p.m., will wrap up the celebration.
Poppe said Oktoberfest is a family-friendly event for all to enjoy. The festival was initially started to bring people together to socialize and raise funds for the church and school, and it has been a success.
“We’re praying hard for good weather,” she said. “There’s lots of individuals dressed in costume and we invite everyone to come in costume — it’s just a lot of fun.”