German roots run deep in Fort Wayne. More than a quarter of its residents trace their family history back to Deutschland.
Those traditions go on full display every summer with the arrival of Germanfest.
This year’s event kicks off at Headwaters Park on Wednesday, June 7, and runs through Sunday, June 11. Entry is free before 2 p.m., then $2 from 2-5 p.m. and $5 from 5 p.m. to close. Entry is free all day on Sunday.
Bring the family
Savvy locals will tell you the best part of the city’s social scene comes alive during festival season downtown. Germanfest has been a huge part of that more than 40 years, and for good reason.
“Sorgenbrecher” means “worry breaker,” and a night at the tent with a hearty German beer will definitely break your worries. There’s always a lot of Sorgenbreching going on at Germanfest.
Like always, this year will feature an opportunity to enjoy a cold beer with several hundred of your friendliest neighbors.
But this year the festival has strengthened it commitment to families in Fort Wayne with the debut of Familienfest, a Saturday packed full of fun, games, prizes, and wiener dogs races from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. All of it is provided for free by local sponsors and the Germanfest committee to share the German culture with a broader swath of the city.
Familienfest includes lots of cool new stuff, including a graffiti wall, games for teens run by teens, K105 showing kids how to be a radio DJ, and of course the main attraction: Wienerdog Nationals at 4 p.m.
Icy the Eagle and Johnny TinCap will be hanging out with the kids at 12:30 p.m. The traditional German food will be available for sale in the main tent as always, but otherwise the entire Familienfest is free.
For the adults
Speaking of the food … the traditional recipes are still going strong. The brats get better every year. The German potato salad and sauerkraut are the perfect accompaniment for a fine German beer. Speaking of which, there’s big news on the beer front.
Chapman’s Brewing won a tasting contest to be the brewery of choice this year, and they are delivering with Chapman’s Germanfest Schwarzbier. This unique brew will be available on tap at the tent through the festival week. It will also be available to take home at local liquor stores.
They’re making only a limited amount. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Next year’s official Germanfest local beer will be a different recipe, so enjoy this one while you can.
More big news on the subject of beer: for the first time, Germanfest will be serving flights.
To give guests the best chance to enjoy a traditional brew, beertenders can now offer a selection of four German beers for just 20 bucks. That includes the Chapman’s Germanfest Schwarzbier along with Spaten, Warsteiner Pilsner, and Warsteiner Dunkel. Guests who try a flight also get to vote for a favorite. Vote for a favorite and be entered in a drawing for a $1,000 Colts ticket package.
Let the games begin
The games aren’t just on Saturday and they’re not just for kids.
Grown-ups will play Hammerschlagen at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. That’s the game in which people run like maniacs and take turns pounding nails into a log. Good clean fun.
Thursday brings the popular Legs and Lederhosen at 7:30 p.m., the anonymous “costume” contest. Also good fun.
At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, check out Masskrugrennen, the brutal sport of holding a liter of beer at arm’s length for as long as you can. Fun to watch, difficult to win.
Germanfest is all about community, and this year it’s making an extra effort to spread friendship and love through the Summit City.
Thursday brings the Single & Mingle event at 6 p.m., a low-pressure, fast-paced meet-and-greet to create some new connections. Participants can meet their new BFF or potential soulmate to bring back downtown for free polka lessons at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The focus is on local, and this year brings tons of new local vendors and booths with cool merch and lots of giveaways.
Local sponsors make Germanfest possible, but it’s community pride that makes it work. Germanfest is 100 percent run by volunteers, and there are always plenty of opportunities to help.
The German tradition in this area was spearheaded by artisans seeking to keep their traditions of local craftsmanship alive. That spirit resonates in Germanfest, which seeks to use local resources to gather the community for shared fellowship.
Festival season is upon us, and it’s time to share some fellowship. Whether it’s an afternoon of dachshunds and family fun, or an evening of singing and sorgenbrecher over a local Schwarzbier, Germanfest is the perfect spot to relive old traditions and forge new ones.