We hope you enjoy this abbreviated version of the
Serving Frankenmuth Since 1906
Vol. 114 No. 11 - In our 114th year!
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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Frankenmuth Oktoberfest to mark its 30th anniversary
The German way to dance and drink is coming to Frankenmuth for the third decade.
The 30th annual Frankenmuth Oktoberfest will take place Thursday through Sunday, September 19-22, in Heritage Park’s Harvey Kern Community Pavilion.
Mark Janson, who has operated the Summer Music Fest for the past 32 years, is looking forward to the fest. This event is one of the best decorated of all of Frankenmuth’s festivals, with German hops, pretzels and other Bavarian items blended in with fall harvest décor.
The musical lineup is built around the Deutsch and polka varieties. Admission is $10 per person, Thursday through Saturday. Children 15 and under are admitted free.
Fred Ziwich will open the Oktoberfest at 3pm Thursday, September 19, followed by The Bratwurst Boys. The two bands will alternate on stage until 6:30pm, when the Schuhplattler will have their first performance.
At 7pm, the official tapping of the first keg of beer will take place as part of a 15-minute Opening Ceremony. Frankenmuth Mayor Mary Anne Ackerman will tap the keg and a brief history of the Frankenmuth Oktoberfest will be shared.
Ziwich and The Bratwurst Boys will play 45-minutes sets until 10pm.
The music begins at noon Friday with the Bratwurst Boys and Ziwich playing noon to 1:45pm. Detroit’s own Tommy Schober and the Sounds of Sorgenbrecher will have their first of four, 45-minute sets and the Schuhplattler will have three, 30-minute performances. Sorgenbrecher will be the last onstage Friday, playing 11:15pm until midnight.
Saturday opens with the sounds of yapping Dachshunds as the annual Weiner Dog Races will take place across the wooden dance floor from noon until 1:30pm. Organizer Pam Mossner is expecting 100 wiener dogs to participate in this drag race-style event.
Race sponsors are Jack and Charlie’s Pet Supply of Frankenmuth, Amazing Engraving of Frankenmuth, Zehnder’s Splash Village and the Frankenmuth Motel.
In addition to the Parade of Wieners, trophies will be given to the Best Dressed Wiener, Smallest Wiener, Fattest Wiener and King and Queen of the Wieners, dressed in traditional attire.
The races will be run in 10 heats of 10 dogs. First, second and third-place dog winners will receive trophies. The overall winner will receive an overnight stay at Splash Village and $50.
Music from Aaron Dussing will kick off the afternoon at 1:30pm, followed by Detroit’s Enzion. The Schuhplattler will have three sets and Sorgenbrecher will hit the stage three times, with Enzian (10:30-11:15pm) and Schober (11:15-midnight) rounding out the evening.
Sunday is free admission with entertainment, food and drink available noon until 6pm. Dussing and Enzian will take turns performing on stage.
The concept of having an Oktoberfest in Frankenmuth was actually started from guests coming to town, wondering why a town so rich in German history did not have such a festival.
During the late winter and early spring of 1990, the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau board of directors and promotions committee members directed the organization’s staff to develop a plan for increasing Frankenmuth tourism in the autumn “shoulder” season. A committee was formed to begin the planning stages for an Oktoberfest similar to the one in Munich, Germany.
The Chamber and CVB staff at that time included Annette Rummel, Vicky Hayden, Carol Simerson Sheree Dodak, Sheila Weiss, Peggy Reinhardt and additional front desk personnel. These individuals, along with Chamber and CVB members began planning an event to take place in fall, 1990.
The weekend of the Canadian Thanksgiving in early October of that year was chosen, to take advantage of additional visitors to the city at that time with the promise of moving the event to a slower weekend once the festival was established.
The location would be a tent placed in the Chamber’s rear parking lot. Budgeting was developed for income and expenses revolving around admission prices, food and beverage service, entertainment, souvenirs, etc. The event took place and was well-received by locals and guests. The only glitch, Rummel recalls, was a power failure due to lack of ample electricity.
Over a number of years, the Oktoberfest grew and was eventually moved from the Chamber Visitor Center parking lot to the vacant G. Heileman Brewing Company, just south of the Cass River, known as the Cass River Development project – today’s Frankenmuth River Place Shops.
After the establishment of the success of the event, the dates were moved from October to later September to take better advantage of weather, hotel availability and to fulfill the promise to build tourism. Oktoberfest was moved to Heritage Park, where the four-day fest is held today.
As Chamber and CVB staff members changed over the years, the following employees were also involved in event organization: Herb Zeilinger, Christine Bergman, Amy Donnelly, Dale Jammer, Bridget Smith and Jeanna Zehnder.
A significant event in the Frankenmuth Oktoberfest’s young history was receiving the rtificate of Ennoblement” from Lord Mayor Christian Ude of Munich in 1996. The following year, the Hofbrauhaus of Munich exported its famous beer outside of Germany for the first time to the Frankenmuth Oktoberfest. The late Fred Schumacher played a large role in getting Hofbrau beers to Frankenmuth, founding Hofbrauhaus of America here.
Mark Janson, Pam Mossner and his volunteers have been operating the festival for many years.