Crowds come from all over for Bavarian Blast
Visitors from Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas and Arizona fought off the oppressive 90 degree weather to listen to music, dance and enjoy Schell’s beer.
Board Member Dodie Wendinger made her estimate after 5 p.m. Saturday, based on wristbands handed out.
If accurate, that would be about 700 people more than last year’s Saturday turnout of 1329. Thursday and Friday had the largest turnout of any year on those days at over 1800 festival-goers on Friday alone.
Last year Friday-turnout was 959, almost half of this year. Wendinger was not sure of a cause, but suspected it was last year’s weather and popular bands this year.
“It’s German heritage,” Wendinger said. “The German heritage, the different types of music — we not only do the polka music we also do rock. Some of the groups have the German flavor.”
Shifting the children’s activities outside was favored by multiple visitors interviewed. The bounce castle and inflatable slide proved popular even when they were brought out early.
“We were not going to have them there (Friday) but there were a lot of children,” Wendinger said. “We went to Mankato, got them and a lot of children took advantage of them.”
Visitor Mark Staller, from Big Lake, loved the inflatables, but did miss some of the old acts like the magician.
Staller’s sentiment for the outdoors was echoed by local couple Darin and Liz Altman. The old building had been too hot for kids to stay inside.
They would have liked a stage outside for children’s music or other performances, Liz said.
“This whole thing is for adults,” Staller said. “There are not enough things for young families.”
The day’s events began with the five and 10 Kilometer run/walk, sponsored by the American Legion Post #132.
The Bavarian Blast 5/10K attracted 296 runners. That is the largest run in the four years KNUJ has hosted the run, KNUJ General Manager Jim Bartels said.
Proceeds went to American Legion Community Youth Projects. Of course, not everyone there was running just to raise money.
The Tietel family and Lotty Grathwohl all ran clad in red to raise awareness for a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) with their campaign #iwearredforcharlie.
They ran for one-year-old Charlie Tietel, who has had three open heart surgeries, his mother Shelby said.
As for the winners of the run, Kayla Postel had the fastest 10K for women, clocking in at 47 minutes and 43 seconds.
Camden Sulzle won overall in the male 10k with 40 minutes 48 seconds. In the 5K, Julie Brockway won overall female with 21 minutes, 13 seconds and Andrew Moeller won for men with 17 minutes.
After the run was well over with, music and competitions were the centers of activity at the Fairgrounds.
The first event was the Dog Race where any small, long dog similar to a Dachshund could run. Returning 2016 champion Leo took first again this year.
In second was Angel, third was Purple Daphne and Kramer, another race veteran, took fourth.
Humans rolled out the barrel in the Barrel Race soon after the dogs left the track. Using two poles, each pair had to roll a small, metal keg along an outer path and compete for space while returning in a single, middle one.
After a couple rounds of head-to-head competition, the final round was timed trials of each of the three remaining teams.
Team Double D’s, Doris and David Hollrah from Omaha Neb., took third with 25.7 seconds. Second went to the Schell’s team, Dave Weldy and Gary Sprenger, who clocked in at 17.86.
First went to the veteran team German Drinking Team, Mike Gerdes and Matt Wermerskirchen, who completed the course in 13.35 seconds.
The next speed trial was the sauerkraut eating competition. each competitor had to eat a Styrofoam bowl of kraut as fast as possible.
It was over in a flash when Matt Pierson gobbled down his sauerkraut before the stop watch even got started.
For the final competition of the night, men and women had to show how well they could hold their alcohol, literally.
The Stein Holding Contest had two flights, one men one women. First were the women. Lynn Rynearson took first holding out past the 2 minutes 40 seconds of second place.
The men went second. It was almost 10 minutes into the contest before the last three began to falter, eventually revealing Allen Dauer as the winner.