NEW ULM -Come rain, snow, sunshine, warmth or cold, thousands of people from near and far, ranging in age from their early twenties to senior citizens will celebrate Bock Fest and Fasching Saturday.
Music by New Ulm's Bock Fest Boys, warm bonfires, tasty food and all varieties of Schell's Beer will greet Bock Fest goers.
Bock Fest goers are encouraged to come early. When the brewery grounds reaches its human capacity, gates will be temporarily closed.
People waiting outside the gate will be allowed to enter, based on the number of people who leave.
Schell's President Ted Marti urged anybody who might not get into Bock Fest at the brewery to enjoy the event and its human throng downtown.
"...There are lots of really great places to fest in New Ulm. ... May the bock be with you," wrote Marti in his Bock Fest 2009 story on the Schells Brewery web site.
What: Fasching (German Mardi Gras)
When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21
Where: Turner Hall, 102 S. State St., New Ulm
What: Bock Fest
When: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21
Where: August Schell Brewing Co., 1860 Schell Road, New Ulm
Marti estimated last year's Bock Fest crowd at approximately 6,000.
"Comfortable capacity is 5,000-6,000," said Marti. "Last year a few people waited in line at times for about 15 to 20 minutes. With a little cooler weather this year, who knows? It's Minnesota."
The Saturday forecast calls for a high of 20 degrees.
Bock Fest goers ready for an adventure can participate in the hunt for hidden wooden, goat-head cutouts (bocks) on the brewery grounds and in adjacent Flandrau State Park. Monetary prizes are awarded to the finders of the bocks.
New Ulm's Concord Singers will sponsor Fasching Saturday at Turner Hall.
Originally from the German Alps and designed to chase winter away, Fasching will feature German food, beverages, music, dancing and a costume contest with prizes and indoor parade at 7 p.m.
Performers include The Concord Singers from 11 a.m. to noon, 2-3 p.m. and 7:30-8:15 p.m.; Peter and Paul Wendinger Band, 5-7 p.m., 8:15-10 p.m.; and the Alpensterne Band, 12-2 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.
Terry Sveine, New Ulm Convention and Visitors Bureau Manager called Bock Fest and Fasching "event-based tourism at its best."
"We look forward to Bock Fest and Fasching again. They are huge tourism generators. Every hotel, motel and bed and breakfast room in New Ulm and around the area will be filled." Sveine said. "Restaurants, shops and gas stations will do a good business too."
"We ask people to go the extra mile to help out visitors by giving them accurate directions, putting on a smile and doing what it takes to help them out," he added.
While festivities in New Ulm are under way, the Brown and Watonwan County Sheriff's Departments as well as New Ulm and Sleepy Eye Police will take part in an impaired driving enforcement mobilization in the New Ulm area on Saturday. The enforcement campaign is part of the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) initiative, a partnership led by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Transportation and Health, and county engineers.
On Sunday, Feb. 22, The Minnesota Music Hall of Fame will host a fund-raising event at Turner Hall with continuous music by five old-time bands from noon to 6 p.m. A concertina jamboree will be held in the lower level.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).