Oktoberfest stein-holding contest winner Rebecca Smith, right, of Harrisburg, S.D., appears unfazed by holding the beer stein for five minutes, 14 seconds on Center Street Saturday.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Maple Lake mechanic and firefighter Tom Blizil, left, didn’t appear to be straining at all, holding a beer stein for nine minutes, 22 seconds, outlasting 19 other Oktoberfest competitors on Center Street Saturday. Austin Brott of Sartell, right, finished second.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Rebecca Smith of Harrisburg, S.D., right, wins the Oktoberfest female stein-holding contest on Center Street Saturday.
NEW ULM — People from nearby and as far away as Ulm, Germany gathered for the second day of Oktoberfest Saturday.
Polka and rock music drew many people to Center Street after the Germanic-American Day Parade concluded at Minnesota Street and 1st Street North.
Perhaps Ulm, Germany radio-television journalist and Neu-Ulm Blaskapelle band member Martin Miecznik said it best.
“Our band has wanted to visit New Ulm’s Oktoberfest since The Concord Singers came to Ulm in 2019 for the city’s 150th anniversary. We had a big birthday party with lots of music,” Miecznik said.
“The Concord Singers stayed with host German host families. We were all ready to come to New Ulm’s Oktoberfest until the COVID-19 epidemic happened. When COVID cases were lower this year, we decided we had to come,” added Miecznik.
“The most important thing to us is the friendship with The Concord Singers and making more friends and taking in Oktoberfest here. Everyone has been very kind to us here,” Mieczik said.
Miecznik, who works for SWR Studio Ulm said New Ulm Oktoberfest reports he made will be broadcast on German radio and television in the near future.
Lord Mayor of the City of Neu-Ulm Katrin Albsteiger, said German Bavarian state elections took place Sunday, Oct. 8 but she was not up for election. She’ll fly back to Germany this week.
“This is my fourth trip to the United States. I’ve visited New York and Milwaukee but I really enjoyed New Ulm,” she said. “The Sister Cities Commission ties we have with New Ulm really make me feel good. It’s just special. We belong together. The culture and family names in New Ulm really feels like home.”
Albsteiger stays fit running several days a week and sometimes does 10k (6.2 mile) road races and she enjoys swimming.
Martin Luther College Professor Emeritus Jack N. Minch said he’s hosted more than 50 German visitors through he Sister Cities Exchange.
“I’ve been to Ulm, Germany 14 times and really enjoy visiting my friends there. Ulm has lots of church bells,” Minch said. “I continue to communicate with many of my German friends.”
A group men from Willmar and Renville were among the downtown crowd Saturday.
Purina feed mill worker and lawn care business owner Lynn Loen of Willmar said he heard about New Ulm’s Oktoberfest and brought several friends.
“I came for the sauerkraut and beer,” said Loen. “So far, the best sauerkraut I’ve ever had was at the Germanic-American Institute in St. Paul. My friends talked me into coming to New Ulm, so we came to enjoy it before winter.”
Many young families with children were making use of a bounce house, coloring station, corn pit and puppet shows on a block of artificial grass placed on Minnesota Street from Center to 1st Street North. An axe-throwing cage was also on the turf.
A climbing wall with Minnesota National Guard members nearby was set up near the corner of Center and Minnesota Street.
Just a few feet from that, packs of Kraft-Heinz Velveeta cheese were given away.
After Dain’s Dutchmen concluded their concert, the contests began on Center Street.
Sixteen women competed in stein-holding. Harrisburg, S.D. physical education teacher Rebecca Smith finished first, holding a stein full of beer for five minutes, 14 seconds.
Maple Lake mechanic and 40-year fire department member Tom Blizel outlasted 19 male stein-holding contestants, winning in 9:22.
He admitted he hasn’t competed in other stein-holding contests.
“I work for a living,” was how he explained winning the event.
Seven men and one woman competed in sauerkraut eating. Eric Warmka of New Ulm easily finished first, devouring a bowl of kraut in one minute, 42 seconds.
“I’ve been practicing for years. I love sauerkraut. I just kept pounding it down,” said Warmka.
The second weekend of Oktoberfest continues Friday, Oct. 13 with live music at the Best Western Plus and Morgan Creek Vineyards. Events continue Saturday, Oct. 14 with live music at downtown establishments and at Schell’s Brewery.
For more information, visit https://www.newulm.com/