Big changes are on the horizon for one of Frankenmuth’s oldest and most cherished festivals, The Bavarian Festival. There is much anticipation and excitement for the long-standing event to relocate to where it all began in downtown Frankenmuth. The change in location has prompted some fun additions to the event while maintaining many of the traditional favorite festivities. The event kicks off this Thursday, June 8th, 2017 with many ceremonial happenings in the main festival tent which is now located in Zehnder Park along Main Street near the Cass River. The Princess Coronation will mark the beginning of the festival starting at 5:30pm followed by the official keg tapping and some great Polka entertainers.
Locals and visitors alike flock to downtown on Friday Nights throughout the summer to enjoy the entertainers lining the streets, but this particular Friday will an even bigger and better as the Bavarian Fest adds multiple festival tents and activities. The Main Tent will host the Maypole Raising Ceremony and Dancers along with a fun competition among teams of local businesses and organizations called the Festival Olympics. Many spectators enjoy a Rotary Chicken BBQ as they watch from the sidelines. Festival organizers along with their sponsors at Zehnder’s and Bavarian Inn & Lodge will also host a rock tent located behind Tiffany’s and a Bier Garten located at the Visitor Center Platz both Friday and Saturday evening. “There will be something different around every corner so people can really make their experience personal,” said Russ Uphold, Chairman of the Civic Events Council, organizers of the event.
Admission is only $5 (5 and under are free) and includes a souvenir button which will get patrons into all the festival areas throughout the entire weekend. The button also comes with discounts at more than a dozen local retailers. Some special activities may have additional nominal fees such as $5/person to ‘Decorate your own souvenir gingerbread necklace’ where guests can drop in Saturday between 11am-1pm or 3-5pm and Sunday from 11am-1pm under a tent in Zehnder’s north parking lot.
While the entire event is family friendly, Saturday is poised to be an extra special day for children starting with the traditional children’s parade at 10am along Main Street from Cass Street to Frankenmuth River Place Shops. Following the parade many families enjoy frolicking along the banks of the Cass River at the new Rock Dam as they watch the Morning Rotary’s Duck Race. There will also be a Kinder Platz (kids area), near the famous cheese mouse, with inflatables and children’s games from Noon-6pm on Saturday. The kids can even learn a traditional German dance by dropping by the free Junior Plattler Training from Noon-1:30pm on the Visitor Center Platz or head to the Farmer’s Market at Noon for a Meet & Greet with the Princess & her court. The Fischer Platz, in the Bavarian Inn parking lot will also feature entertainment throughout the weekend and it’s a great place to catch the Glockenspiel, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, and will chime at 9am, Noon, 3, 6 and 9pm each day.
Saturday night boasts a new fireworks show right over the Main Tent in Zehnder Park that will be viewable from nearly anywhere downtown Frankenmuth. “There are special activities all weekend long.” said Jamie Furbush, President/CEO of the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau. From sand sculpting in the parking lot of the Covered Bridge & Leather Gift Shop to Woolen Mill Tours at the Frankenmuth Woolen Mill, there will be many special things to see. And many interactive activities such as the make-your-own German inspired bracelet at Bead Haven, pretzel rolling at Bavarian Inn Restaurant or German food sampling at Willi’s Sausage Company & Healthy Habitz. “Local businesses and groups have really stepped up to add to the festival fun which means the schedule of events is packed,” Furbush added. You can get a printed copy of the schedule at the Visitor Center or the Main Festival Tent.
The social savvy folks might be interested to know about the Instagram Scavenger Hunt which you can pre-register for online or check-in at the Harvest Coffee House at 1:30pm on Saturday. This event is being organized by a member of the High School German Club.
The weekend wraps up with an incredible parade that is one of the most festival times of the year in Frankenmuth. People line the streets with family and friends, many donning customary German apparel. Pretzels and brats sold street-side and with the main festival tent now being located along Main Street, there is even an opportunity to get a pancake breakfast or hit the Bloody Mary bar before you secure your spot.
For a complete list of events and activities, visit www.bavarianfestival.org. Don’t forget to #bavarianfest to share your photos and check out the Bavarian Festival Snapchat filter while you are there. Pack your lederhosen or grab a flower ring for your hair to really get into the Bavarian Fest fun!