The 36th annual Ernte Fest, the high point of the year for the Freistatt community, will be held on Friday, Aug. 14., and Saturday, Aug. 15, on the Friestatt Lions' Ernte Fest grounds. The "harvest festival" is a fundraiser for the Freistatt Lions and features food, games and live entertainment.
Ernte Fest is a traditional German festival, celebrating the heritage of the Freistatt community. The event includes polka music, a traditional German dinner, a "bier garten" and many children's games that were popular prior to 1917 when German communities thrived throughout the United States.
Available both nights will be the German meal in the Ernte Fest building. The meal includes bratwurst, sauerkraut, green beans, German potato salad, cookies and coffee, tea or milk. Cost is $7 for adults and $3.50 for children 12 and under.
Those age 21 and older will be able to enter the "bier garten." Tokens for the purchase of beer will be available at booths on the premises.
There will again be two stages for live music. The main stage with the dance floor will again be the center for German music. Performing both nights, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. , will be the Johnnie Zibert Polka Band from Tulsa, Okla. The Sauerkrauts, a German polka band from San Antonio, Texas, will play from 8 p.m. to midnight on both nights. The Sauerkrauts previously played regularly at Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla.
The second stage will feature country and rock music, beginning at 8 p.m. each evening. Playing on Friday will be Southern Green, and Side FX will play on Saturday.
Rides for children will be offered each evening. Among the favorite attractions is the festival's unique horse-drawn merry-go-round. There will be a separate tent for bingo games. Throughout the evening, the Snack Shack will be open selling traditional American and German foods.
Fun begins each night at 4:30 p.m. and continues until midnight. Admission is free. Parking on the grounds is $3 per vehicle. Concessions and rides are priced individually.
The Ernte Fest has drawn record crowds of 10,000-plus to the little Freistatt community of 180 each year and continues to be one of the largest celebrations in the Ozarks because of the Freistatt Lions Club's commitment to sponsor the event. Monies raised from the event are distributed to eye research as well as several local organizations and the club awards scholarships to local young people.
Those attending the Ernte Fest are welcome to bring lawn chairs. The novelty stand will again offer T-shirts, hats and other memorabilia of the occasion.
The Ernte Fest grounds are located on the north side of Friestatt on Highway H, three miles south of Interstate 44.