HermannFest packs in the crowds

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello The skies above the Hermann Monument were a exploding with color during HermannFest Saturday in New Ulm. See more photos on page 6B.

NEW ULM — Hermann and Harman Park were packed with people all Saturday from morning until night in celebration of HermannFest 2018.

This was the fifth official year of the HermannFest celebration, which seems to draw more and more people each year.

Tom Furth, President of the Hermann Monument Society said the first official HermannFest was 2014. In 2013, they held a celebration to honor the anniversary of the New Ulm Battery and the laying of Hermann’s cornerstone. The celebration went over so well, the Hermann Monument Society decided to continue the festival every year.

Over 1,000 people were in Harman Park during the Thunder in the Valley performance, in which several regional battery units fire off cannons as the Municipal Band played.

This year nine different cannons were used for the performance. Battery units from Lakeview, Iowa; Ankenny, Iowa; Early, Iowa; Gettysburg, South Dakota and Grand Marias, Minnesota joined the New Ulm Battery. A dozens members of the Minnesota National Guard assisted with the firing of the cannons.

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt The Wendinger Band performed in Hermann Heights Park on Saturday afternoon as HermannFest got underway.

The cannons were timed to fire along with the Municipal Band’s performances. Musical Director Don Jirak and Tom Bierer worked to coordinate the performance. Jirak marked down the parts of the performances in which a cannon should be fried and Bierer singled each battery when to fire.

The Thunder in the Valley performance is a treat for the audience, but the band enjoys the opportunity as well. Jirak said it is a rare opportunity to play a concert with cannons serving as percussion.

Furth said there was a steady stream of visitors to Hermann and Harman Park throughout day.

HermannFest is fast becoming a homecoming style celebration. Former New Ulm residents return to celebrate the event with their family. This year the festival was also the meeting place for multiple class reunions.

Early in the day the New Ulm Class of 1988 was celebrating its 30 year Class Reunion in Hermann Heights Park. Later at night, the Class of 2008 met to celebrate their 10 year Class Reunion.

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Before the Colorfest 5K began, runners gathered to toss a packet of color in the air. This was the first of many color tosses the runners experienced before the 5K was through.

Furth said it work well for the class reunions because they didn’t have to bring any food and Hermann Monument Society was able to make additional money through brat and beer sales. He said they will likely encourage other class reunions to meet during future festivals.

One of the most popular people at the festival was Hermann himself — Bryce Boelter in costume — who posed for photographs with several kids.

Boelter said the kids love the festival, but so do their parents. He’s met people from all across the community and a few visitors.

“There is a lot of people from the Twin Cities coming down to be a part of this celebration,” he said “and a lot of locals love it too!”

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