NEW ULM - Bavarian Blast are emphasizing the "blast" part of the festival's name this year. Yes, there will be polkas, German music and concertinas aplenty, but there will be so much more.
Bavarian Blast president Paul Sabatino said those who equate Bavarian Blast with non-stop German music will be surprised by the variety of music the various bands will play.
Returning this year is the Alex Meixner Band, a big hit last year at Bavarian Blast. Meixner' energetic accordion playing adapts well to a wide and wild variety. "Like he said last year, he plays everything from the Six Fat Dutchmen to Metallica," said entertainment committee member Tom Furth.
Staff photo by Kevin Sweeney
The Bavarian Blast is moving most of its activities to the south end of the Brown County Fairgrounds. The main entertainment tent, above, will be located closer to the New Ulm Civic Center, and the festival will take advantage of other fairground buildings this year.
Traditional music will be mixed with new wave polka stylings by bands like Squeezebox with Mollie B. Mollie hosts an "American Bandstand" style polka show on the RFD TV channel, said Furth. Another band, new to the Blast this year, s Copper Box from Wisconsin, a band that mixes polka music with some Pink Floyd and zydeco.
Palonia, a German band from Chicago, is a veteran of the German Fest in Milwaukee, and a proven entertainer.
"We've booked a lot of entertainers this year, not just bands," Furth said. "If they look out and see the audience isn't happy, they'll play something else, and do whatever they can to get you out of your seats."
Saturday's main stage lineup will feature Alex Meixner at 7:30, Paloma at 9, and finish with a country rock band, Hitchville, that is rising in popularity, It opened for Kenny Chesney and for Sugarland, and will head to the WE Fest in August to open the main stage for Toby Keith.
In addition to bands, there is a wide variety of local entertainment, from the Concord Singers to the Bockfest Boys, the Leon Olsen Show, the Wendinger Band, the Originl German Band and the New Ulm Municipal Band.
The setup for the festival will be a little different this year. The main tent is smaller this year, and located closer to the south end of the fairgrounds. Sabatino said the Blast will make better use of the other buildings on that end of the fairgrounds, and open up space near the grandstand for camping, and for other activities.
The Kinderfest will feature a multitude of magicians, ventriloquists and storytellers, and the Two Mommies Craft Show will be held in the Civic Center building.
There will be a midway area with Wiener Dog Racing, Barrel Rolling and a sauerkraut eating contest from 6 to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Blast organizers are mindful of the cost concerns some people have, and are offering various ways to keep the festival affordable. Bavarian Blast ads, like the one in today's paper, will serve as a $2-off coupon at the gate. Admission is $9 on Friday and Saturday, but $5 on Sunday.
Furth said he hopes people will come to the fairgrounds to watch the Bavarian Blast Parade. The $5 admission fee will give access to two bands from Germany, the Einhausen Musik Corps at 11 a.m. before the parade, and the Herborn Seelbach band after the parade.
The grand finale will be followed by a special Post Blast Party, featuring Sandra Lee and the Velvets, playing old-time rock and roll from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Classic rock from the 80s and 90s will also be featured at the pre-Blast party on Thursday, a performance by Arch Allies, a tribute band that plays the best of Styx, Journey and REO Speedwagon. The event is not officially part of Bavarian Blast, but it is a fundraiser for Bavarian Blast.
The Schell's Brewery will unveil three new beers at the festival, the Schell's Shocked Radler (a beer/lemonade mix that is very popular in Germany), the new Emerald Rye brew, and a special brew especially created for Bavarian Blast. The special fest brew will be tapped at the Fest Keg Opening at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and will be free until it is gone.There will also be happy hours on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Sabatino said mixed drinks will also be available this year.
For more information about the festival, go to the Blast's web site, www.bavarianblast.com.