We hope you enjoy this abbreviated version of the
Serving Frankenmuth Since 1906
Vol. 111 No. 38 In our 111th year!
Wednesday, March 22 2016
Bavarian Festival to return to downtown
Big changes are on the horizon for one of Frankenmuth’s oldest and most cherished fests, the Bavarian Festival.
Since 1970, with the opening of Heritage Park, the annual June event has been held at the bend of the Cass River. Now the Frankenmuth Civic Events Council (CEC) board of directors have made the decision to move the festival downtown, back to its roots.
The Bavarian Fest was founded in 1958 as the grand opening of the new Bavarian Inn Restaurant. Formerly the Fischer Hotel, the building was varianized” by Inn owners William “Tiny” Zehnder and his wife, Dorothy.
In 1963, the CEC was formed to oversee the event, which grew to two weekends. Today, “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” celebrates its heritage over four days, with the 2017 fest set for Thursday through Sunday, June 8-11.
The main event will take place in Edwin Zehnder Park, located on South Main Street, just north of the Cass River. The park will host the traditional German festivities, such as the Maypole Dancers and the Festival Olympics. There will also be other tented or entertainment areas downtown that are yet to be finalized.
The CEC has worked with the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau to help reach out to the businesses that would be impacted by the changes.
“The exciting part of this change is the ability for the event to grow and evolve, bringing endless opportunity for local businesses and community groups now and into the future,” Chamber President and CEO Jamie Furbush said.
The festival’s location change also comes along with an approach that is collaborative in nature.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with the support and positive feedback we received already,” CEC President Russ Uphold said. “We are excited to also announce that the festival will include a fireworks show this year, thanks to some generous sponsors.
The CVB is also lending a hand with marketing the Bavarian Fest this year. From a marketing standpoint, organizers intend to have much more to market than just the festival itself as businesses and service organizations come together to add enhancements and various festivities and activities.
What this means, the CEC directors say, is that there will be festival fun all along Main Street. While the 2017 changes are big, they are small in comparison to how the CEC envisions the festival growing.
“I look forward to the day that I can stand at the top of the hill and look in both directions to see festival activities. While we are starting in a location we can manage, we see big opportunities for this to spread up and down Main Street from one end of town to the other,” Uphold stated.
While the location will change this year, many other elements will remain the same. Only a few will cease to happen.
The Saturday morning Kinder Tag or Children’s Parade will continue as will the Bavarian Sunday Parade, both along their current routes. While many new activities are planned for children, the amusement rides will not continue in the new environment.
The CEC is also working with the community’s service organization partners regarding adjustments to their previous activities, such as pancake breakfasts, chicken barbecue dinners, pretzel sales and others. Some groups may choose to relocate their activities while others may look at this as an opportunity to try something new.
“In future years, it is the hope that even more groups and businesses will find ways to collaborate and offer something during the festival,” Uphold said. “The Bavarian Festival will no longer happen in just one place with activities organized by one group.”
Uphold noted the goal is to have the fest host a collection of events and activities put on by many people, businesses and civic groups to create a whole new experience that is wide spread, vibrant and celebrates the Bavarian heritage of the community in fun, new ways.
“We hope this becomes something locals will come together to enjoy, celebrate and be a part of,” Uphold concluded.
More details will be released along with the updates schedule of events. For more information, contact Russ Uphold at email@example.com