A Milwaukee festival you can count on for food, music, games

By DAN MUCKELBAUER - Freeman Staff

July 28, 2016


Submitted photo
The Dachshund Derby at 1 p.m. Sunday is one of the highlights of German Fest, which begins Friday at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE - Let loose the hounds - the Dachshunds, that is.

The racing real-life wiener dogs are just one of the fun family activities taking place this weekend at German Fest on the lakefront.

Billed as “Milwaukee’s Kickoff to Wisconsin’s Oktoberfest Season,” there’ll be more German songs than you can sing, bratwurst than you can eat and lederhosen than you care to see Friday through Sunday.

Speaking of eating, there will be the renowned spanferkel, schnitzel, goulash, dumplings, herring and  potato pancakes, and that doesn't start to name the pastries available.

Fest bier with a authentic stein is just one way to wash it all down. Well, maybe coffee for the pastries.

Established in 1981, it’s one of the largest authentic German ethnic festivals outside of Germany, according to the folks at German Fest.

“I’m excited to celebrate our 36th annual German Fest,” German Fest President Eric Radue said in a statement. “We have so many wonderful things happening at the Fest this year from a living Glockenspiel and Dachshund races to our featured bands and of course the wonderful German food we are known for. All this is made possible thanks to the hard work and outstanding support of our 1,500 plus volunteers.”

The sonic buffet includes music on five different stages throughout the grounds.

If there’s music, there’s dancing. It’s not just paying spectators either. Five local children’s dance groups and nine youth and adult dance groups will take to the stage.

The culture is expressed in dance with traditional garb and music of a variety of regions, including of the ethnic Germans who settled along the Danube in the present-day countries of Austria, Yugoslavia and Hungary.

Highlighted this year will be the Germany’s Waterways exhibit, depicting the regions, cultures and dance.

As part of the fun, there will be games. Besides the Dachshund Derby, they include soccer tournaments, handball championship and sheepshead card playing.

Even if you're not a German, the Marktplatz can help you look like one with clothing and a host of home goods for sale.

Tickets are $15, $12 in advance for adults, $7 for students with ID and seniors 60 and older, and free for 12 and younger. Friday is $3 admission for everyone on Military Appreciation Day, free for active military personnel and their families as well as all veterans.

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