Hundreds enjoy authentic music, food and games during Germanfest

Germanfest attendees raise glass mugs in a friendly competition in which the participant who holds the mug in the air longest wins. These competitors are a few of the hundreds who attended the annual event. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Haas)

BIG RAPIDS — Approximately 800 people spent Friday night eating, dancing and being merry during the 12th annual Germanfest, hosted at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and School.

At the 12th annual Germanfest, a celebration of German heritage, hundreds of community members and visitors filled their plates with authentic German foods before hitting the dance floor.

“This was awesome,” said Amy Belden, Germanfest attendee. “It was a wonderful night.”

This was Belden’s first year at the event and she plans to return next year.

Germanfest celebrates German heritage while raising funds for St. Peter’s Lutheran School and the church youth group. Since the event’s inception, Germanfest committee member Mark Viel estimates $250,000 has been raised.

Attendees could dance through the evening to a Michigan-based live band, Immigrant Sons, or could test their strength in Hammerschlagen, a game where participants drove nails into an oak block with a small maul. Another game, Masskrugstemmen, challenged participants to hold a one-liter glass mug in an outstretched arm.

Meagan Viel lines up her shot during the Hammerschlagen game. For this challenge, participants took turns driving nails in an oak block with a small maul.

“It’s a really nice adult evening,” Viel said. “The weather was good. The band was good. The food was good. Alles war gut (All was good)!”

When not challenging each other in the games or dancing to the band, Germanfest attendees milled through different buffet lines, which included authentic German recipes for red cabbage and potato salads and more, as well as a variety of desserts.

Attendees also could choose from an assortment of meats, such as the approximately 450 pounds of sausage, 200 pounds of marinated beef and 250 pounds of pork available. According to Mike Wilkinson, Germanfest committee member, all the food for the event took approximately a week to make.

He said the event could not have happened if it weren’t for the support of the community.

Phyllis and Jim Lindsey glide across the dance floor at Germanfest, hosted at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and School, on Friday.

“We are really proud of Germanfest,” he said. “We like to be as authentic as we can.”

To fit that bill, the sausages came from a second-generation sausage maker in Wisconsin, and the four varieties of beers served at the event were imported from Hofbrauhaus in Munich. The wine served on Friday also was imported, Viel said.

He estimated 15 kegs of beer and 30 cases of wine were consumed during the event.

“The Germans have a term ‘gemütlichkeit,'” Viel said. “It’s a feeling of friendship with each other. We hope everyone had a feeling of gemütlichkeit.”


Makenzie Currie focuses on the glass mug in her hand during the women’s portion of the Masskrugstemmen game. Currie was announced the winner after holding the mug in the air for more than two minutes.

A Michigan-based band, Immigrant Sons, provided entertainment throughout the night, playing both European and American music.










Michael Viel laughs with the other men participating in the Masskrugstemmen game, which was won by Jeff Godfry.


Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at

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