HAMLER — The Village of Hamler prepares for its 53rd Hamler Summer Fest this weekend.
Experience for yourself some good old German gemutlichkeit in Hamler Thursday-Sunday. Information obtained from its website touts the festival as the “Grandaddy of them all” — a festival filled with polka music, dancing, beer, German potato salad and German-style brats.
It all started when “a few couples in 1968 visited the Frankenmuth festival in Michigan...” They apparently enjoyed their time so much, they wanted to replicate it here.
One Sunday afternoon, expecting a small crowd, as the story goes, Hamler began their own festival in a tent with a makeshift dance floor with two polka bands behind the American Legion Hall. It must have been a hit, because 900 reportedly attended and danced the night away.
Over the years, the Hamler Summer Fest has gained in popularity — growing from that one evening of dance to three days filled with dancing, German food, and plenty of polka music.
Elissa Carrizales, Hamler resident, was contacted about the festival and said that, “Without the whole community this festival would not be possible. The Hamler Fire Department, the Men’s Club, the Patrick Henry basketball and football teams all help with set up, preparation and implementation; and the cross country team helps with the 5K race. There are so many people involved.”
Asked about the involvement of younger people, Carrizales said, “It’s incredible to see parents teaching their younger children on the dance floor. It’s great to see the tradition continue.”
Too, Carrizales said that the Sunday church service is led by Mollie B. “Mollie B preaches, sings and plays an instrument.”
This year’s schedule includes:
• Thursday, 7 p.m., an inter-denominational church service — Carrizales noted that many of the Hamler and Deshler pastors participate in different parts of the service.
• Friday, 4:30 p.m., gates open, food service begins at 5 p.m.; at 6 p.m., registration for 1K Kids Run and 5K; 6:30 p.m., 1K Kids Run; 7 p.m., 5K Run.
• Friday evening after the race join the polka bands: Jack Tady and the Tady Bears at 7-8:30 p.m. and 10-11:30 p.m.
• Saturday, gates open at 2 p.m. with three bands playing: 2:30-4 p.m. and 5:30-7 p.m. Aaron Dussing & Polka Revolution; 4-5:30 p.m. and 8:30-10 p.m. Squeezebox feat. Ted Lange and Mollie B; 7-8:30 p.m. and 10-11:30 p.m Jack Tady and the Tady Bears.
• Sunday, gates open at 10 a.m.; free church service at 10:30 a.m.; Squeezebox feat. Ted Lange and Mollie B at 1-2:30 p.m. and 4-5:30 p.m.; Fred Ziwich 2:30-4 p.m. and 5:30-7 p.m.