Organizers of the annual HOF Germanfest are looking to make the 2020 cultural event just a little more kid-friendly.
Sure, there will be the traditional German food and beer, the lederhosen and dirndl, the oom-pah bands and yodeling.
But there will also be games and activities for the whole family — like musical chairs and pretzel-eating contests.
“It is such a family-oriented event,” said Kelsee Bushell, event manager for Golden Spike Event Center, where HOF Germanfest will be held this weekend. “It’s meant for everyone to come. I was talking to a dignitary from Hof who said, ‘This is where you can come to meet everyone.’ Everyone is welcome — even if you don’t know anything about Germany, come and learn.”
Bushell said the plan is to add in “little things” each year to make the annual festival a little bit better.
“Next year we might have a balloon artist come in, or a juggler,” she said. “We have some ideas rolling, but we’ll add them gradually — we don’t want to just throw a whole different festival at people.”
This year’s performers of German music will include Salzburger Echo, B&B Allstars, and the Gruber Family Band. A total of 18 vendors will be selling handmade crafts and other goods and services, and all of the traditional German foods will be available for purchase — from wiener schnitzel and spaetzle to knackwurst, bratwurst and more.
Providing the brats at this year’s festival will be the Ogden-based Schtele Sausage Co.
“It’s like a sixth-generation recipe or something like that,” Bushell said.
Desserts will be offered by the Roy-based Petra’s Backstubchen.
“She makes the best desserts,” Bushell said.
There will also be a selection of German beers available for purchase, along with Hof beer steins and t-shirts.
“I know that a lot of people come because they have ancestors from Germany,” Bushell said. “They want to eat authentic German food and drink beer specific to Germany. And the desserts!”
HOF Germanfest, which has undergone a couple of name changes over the past 34 years, began as a Sister City celebration between the towns of Ogden and Hof, Germany. It used to be held in downtown Ogden, but has since moved to the Weber County Fairgrounds.
“A lot of people don’t understand how it all came about, but it started with President Eisenhower’s People to People Program,” Bushell said. “And we’re actually the strongest city-to-city relationship left from that people-to-people program.”
Last year’s event attracted some 3,500 people over the two days. The event also brings in school field trips on Friday afternoon.
“This is my first year with it,” Bushell said. “I never knew it was a thing until I started working here, and I’m so excited to see how this all turns out. It’ll be fun for families and people with a German background. I think it’s going to be one of the best years.”