Putting the burrrrrrrrrr in Oktoberfest

Dressed in winter attire, Church of Cash performs “Ring of Fire” to warm up the audience at the Downtown Oktoberfest celebration.

NEW ULM — With temperatures holding in the mid-30-degree range all day, Saturday may have been the coldest Oktoberfest celebration in memory.

Light snow fell during the morning and afternoon festivities but never accumulated on the ground. The unseasonably cold weather did not keep revelers away from Schell’s Brewery or the downtown New Ulm events.

Within the first two hours, Schell’s Brewery had approximately 1,500 enter through the gates. New visitors continued to come to the brewery grounds until closing time. All the guests wore extra layers of clothing and winter attire.

Jodi Marti said this was the coldest Oktoberfest she could remember, but the brewery regularly hosts a colder celebration. Marti said Schell’s staff and volunteers were calling this a pre-Bockfest. Compared to the Fasching celebrations in the winter, this celebration was relatively warm.

The wind was the greatest challenge. At Schell’s, visitors escaped the wind by gathering in the tent. The crowded tent kept everyone warm while Schell’s Hobo Band performed.

Dain’s Dutchmen closed out Oktoberfest at the New Ulm Event Center. Dozens of polka fans danced the night away indoors, out of the cold.

Downtown New Ulm, the Chamber of Commerce rearranged the stage to keep out of the wind. Instead of blocking off both sides of Center Street between Minnesota St. and Broadway, the stage was moved into the alley parallel to the B&L Bar, creating wind blocks on three sides. This new arrangement allowed food vendors to set up indoors.

DJ Andy Christensen with Up All Night Entertainment provided the music in the morning. Church of Cash performed in the afternoon. Church of Cash’s performance of “Ring of Fire” took on a more hopeful meaning.

The total attendance at the downtown celebration is unknown, but the chamber kept a registry of visitors. Most of those attending Oktoberfest were from Minnesota or South Dakota, but chamber President Michael Looft said there was at least one visitor from Texas celebrating Oktoberfest in New Ulm.

Later in the evening, the Best Western Plus and Green Mill saw a significant boost in attendance. Best Western/Green Mill manager Erin Lafferty said they had a great turnout. After Schell’s closed, everyone came to the hotel and restaurant.

“They were enjoying the warmth of indoors,” Lafferty said. In the hotel conference room, the Bockfest Boys entertained the crowds while the Narren led the dancing.

Three-year-old Leland Johnson from St. Paul has been coming to New Ulm’s Oktoberfest his whole life, but he’s still on his first pair of lederhosen.

Outside Whiskey Stone and IV Play rocked the Rocktoberfest tent.

The New Ulm Event Center also enjoyed a boost from the weather. Those seeking to escape the chill were able to dance to the music of the Leon Olsen Band and Dain’s Dutchmen.

The newest Hans Joohs Exchange Intern, Annika Hanrieder, tries the giant pretzel during the Schell's Oktoberfest celebration. Hanrieder worked as a volunteer at the brewery on her eighth day in New Ulm.