FRANKENMUTH (WJRT) -
(06/12/14) - Frankenmuth is about to be filled with plenty of lederhosen - not to mention brats and beer!
It's a celebration of German heritage - and Frankenmuth's biggest party of the year.
"It's our way of kicking off the summer, and it's been a part of my life and a part of the lives of the residents of Frankenmuth for as long as I can remember," said Shannon Ciszek, Bavarian Festival chairman.
The fifty-sixth annual Bavarian Festival takes over Heritage Park through Sunday, and features a handful of first time happenings.
"A corn hole tournament and a euchre tournament on Saturday, those are brand new events this year. We're also doing Bavarian Olympics on Friday and we have a beer slide that's polished and ready to go," Ciszek said.
Bavarian Festival has been consistently ranked as one of Michigan's most visited summertime events. On Sunday alone, more than 150,000 people are expected to make their way downtown.
"People from all around the world come out to watch the parade on Sunday at 1 p.m., right on Main Street. We also have a children's parade on Saturday at 10. It's a lot of fun and just a great community time," Ciszek said.
Hotel rooms will be hard to come by, and restaurants are anticipating long waits. Proceeds from the festival benefit a variety of initiatives.
"The exchange program, we're actually sending 10 kids to Germany. In years past, we've only sent three. That's one of the biggest things we do," said Brent Weiss, Bavarian Festival president.
Another is the Bavarian Princess Court. Candidates are competing for college scholarships.
"The scholarship is a great incentive for doing it, but otherwise, we just love doing it as well," said Ashley Sabourin.
"I think it's something that we all grew up seeing. We'd go to parade and see the princess and her court, so it's something we all enjoy," said Kirsten Bierlein.
"But absolutely, we want to win this. There's only one winner," Sabourin said.
Along with that friendly competition comes a rather fierce and stylish wardrobe.
"Lederhosen, derndels, not required, but highly accepted," Ciszek said.
Bavarian Festival opens its carnival on Thursday night, followed by the ceremonial tapping of the first keg.