Weather gives Bavarian Blast a lift

Pleasant temps bring crowds back to festival

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt 10-year-old Cameron Mack sat in Mollie B and Squeezbox, Saturday afternoon. He played the concertina on several songs. See more photos on page 8A.

NEW ULM — What a difference 30 degrees makes! Saturday’s Bavarian Blast Festival was a completely different climate from Friday with temperatures in the low 70s for most of the day.

The festival board was nervous during the early morning hours. A thunderstorm was threatening to dampen events. The Bavarian Blast 5K/10K was almost rained out. The rain was falling at 7 a.m. but had stopped before the registration at 8 a.m.

New Ulm Police Chief David Borchert help organize the 5K/10K. He admitted he thought the event would be canceled but was pleased with results. The rain had dropped the humidity and temperature to create near-perfect running conditions.

Connor Artner, 16, from Fairmont finished first in the 5K with a time of 18 minutes, 50 seconds. He said running conditions were a bit windy, but overall okay.

Chris Gordon finished first in the 10K with a time of 42 minutes, 44 seconds. Gordon said the alternate route for the 10K was a bit of a challenge, but he likes a good challenge.

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Lyn Rynearson of Lake Crystal won the women’s stein holding contest with a time of 4 minutes 30 seconds. This is her second stein holding victory.

“It was great everyone could come out to do this considering the weather,” he said.

Approximately 160 people registered for the race.

Later in the afternoon, the canines were given a chance to run. Three-time winner, Leo, a dachshund won a fourth Bavarian Blast Dog race. His owners Lisa and Norman Grathwohl said the secret is to give him lots of treats and positive reinforcement.

Mathew Buhr and Gene Buhr won the barrel races. This year saw tough competition with seven teams. The Buhr boys had competed before and knew how to roll a barrel.

Gene Buhr would go on to win the sauerkraut eating contest with a time of six seconds. Buhr has also competed in the sauerkraut contest before and is veteran at eating the cabbage with a kick.

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt After over 11 minutes, Nick Mehlhop won the men’s stein holding contest. Mehlhop had never entered the contest before, but credited working out and beer drinking for his victory.

The stein holding contest saw stiff competition in both the women’s and men’s division. Lynn Rynearson of Lake Crystal won the women’s division by holding out for four minutes 30 seconds. This is Rynearson’s second stein holding victory.

Nick Mehlhop won the men’s division, which lasted over 11 minutes. This was Mehlhop’s first stein holding competition. He credited his victory with regularly working out and drinking beer.

It was a day for the record books. Attendance at Bavarian Blast was significantly higher Saturday compared to Friday. The cooler temperatures encouraged more people to leave their air conditioning. The large industrial fans inside the large tent were kept off until later in the afternoon. The fans were only turned on to counteract the body heat from the large crowd.

Squeezebox’s Mollie B said it was a complete 180 degrees from Friday. The band set up during a thunderstorm. At first, it looked like even fewer people would attend, but once the sky cleared the tent was packed again.

Bavarian Blast board member, Dodie Wendinger expected to exceed 3,500 people Saturday, which would make up for Friday.

“It’s going to be a good day,” Wendinger said. “Right now we’re having trouble keeping up with tokens.”

The final headcount for Saturday is still unknown, but the concession stands were hit hard. The food line was 10 people deep most of the day.

The Nicollet County Pork Producers provided the m­eat served and a running tally was kept. By 6 p.m. the food stands sold approximately 500 burgers, 600 brats, 400 pork chops, 300 schnitzel and 400 lbs of spätzle.

Sunday is the last day of Bavarian Blast. Performances start at 8:30 a.m. with the Original German Band. The Farm-City Hub Club will serve breakfast at 8:30 a.m. From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Squeezebox with Mollie B will hold a special Polka church service. The Bavarian Blast parade will start at 12:30 p.m. The parade starts at the fairgrounds and travels south on State Street, then east on 6th North, before turning north on Jefferson and returning to the fairgrounds.

Musical performances will continue in the KNUJ Polka Hall and the Nuvera Stage through late afternoon. At 6 p.m. “Free Fallin’–A Tribute to Tom Petty will perform to close out the weekend.