NEW ULM - Bavarian Blast has a make-or-break moment this weekend as it rolls out its new line of entertainment.
The festival faced devastatingly low turnout last year due to a massive heat wave, putting its future in question. But, the Bavarian Blast board decided to forge ahead and rolled out a dynamically new layout for events to bring back the old spark.
A new, diverse lineup of bands is featured. Blast board member Paul Sabatino said the festival is mixing in a healthy dose of new and unique music with the traditional polka that people are expecting.
Staff photo by Josh Moniz
Hundreds of people filled the Bavarian Blast grounds Thursday evening at the festival’s kickoff event that included a performance by the Arch Allies. The festival runs today through Sunday at the Brown County Fairgrounds in New Ulm.
The big headliners are the return of the wildly popular Alex Meixner Band and the new arrivals of Palonia and Squeezebox featuring Mollie B. Molly. Sabatino said the board received calls from busloads of people planning to visit for those two performers.
The festival's physical layout has been redesigned to make it more compact around the existing buildings at the Brown County Fairgrounds. Sabatino said the design is intended to maximized the space they rent while creating more a festive feel.
He also said the new design, both in layout and tent design, allows for several measures to combat the heat. He said they'll have fans blowing through the tents to keep temperatures down, while the tent designs let heat vent out the top.
Beyond that, he said people will be able to dodge any heat by stepping into the New Ulm Civic Center for the festival's new Two Mommies Craft Show, which will run over the weekend.
The festival's food scene will also feature a few changes, including several new food vendors.
"Everybody enjoys variety in the greasy, fun food they eat," said Sabatino.
On the beverage front, the festival will now serve hard liquor to patrons of the legal age.
Finally, the event will feature several fun activities, including the traditional sauerkraut eating contest, Wiener Dog Racing and Barrel Rolling.
Sabatino said that ticket pre-sales have been the strongest in years. He is anticipating a successful year, regardless of what the weather brings.
"I might be overly optimistic, I'm willing to say we'll be here next year," said Sabatino, "We've done some major overhauls that will bring something new and fresh."
The event is being held at the Brown County Fairgrounds today through Sunday. General admission at the gate is $9 on Friday and Saturday, and $5 on Sunday. Kids 12 and under are free.
For additional information, visit www.bavarianblast.com