By Paul Downer
By Paul Downer
When organizers began discussing the 2012 edition of Zummerfest in Hamburg, they found themselves at a crossroads.
"We’ve kind of been at a transition point the last few years where we either needed to go smaller, or go bigger," said Bruce Gruenhagen, a member of the organizing committee.
They decided to go bigger.
Zummerfest, a collaboration between the Hamburg Lions and Hamburg Fire Department Relief Association, arrives this weekend, June 15-17 with an expanded lineup of attractions. The major change involves several new events for youth on Saturday afternoon, including a magic show, amphibian and reptile zoo show, and a variety of activities such as face painting, a coloring contest, kids’ bingo and more. A grand prize bicycle will also be given away.
"We didn’t really have enough things for kids, so we picked some more that were really geared for kids, but if parents or grandparents are coming along, they’re going to enjoy it too," said Gruenhagen. "More new attractions are planned for next year, but I don’t want to reveal too much yet."
Gruenhagen said that the weekend has not been an overly fruitful fundraiser for the Lions and fire department in recent years – thus the need to either downsize the celebration or add more attractions – but he added that an equally important consideration has been to provide a city celebration for Hamburg.
"It’s a community thing. We almost do it as much for the community as we do for fundraising. Well, if we do it for the community we have to have something that will draw," said Gruenhagen. "That’s why we decided to try doing a few more things we haven’t done before.
"Hamburg’s a community that has lost a lot of businesses over the years and has become so much of a bedroom community. This is something that can draw people from all around and something Hamburg can hang its hat on. It’s a small town, and it’s not as big as Stiftungsfest, but there’s still enough reason to come."
A preview of the upcoming weekend, which includes citywide garage sales Thursday through Saturday, is included below.
Friday, June 15
Friday’s traditional activities, a classic car show and cruise along with a concert, remain unchanged this year.
The food stand at Bi-Centennial Park opens at 4 p.m. Burgers, hot dogs, walking tacos, French fries, onion rings, root bear floats, ice cream and sweet corn are featured offerings.
A classic car show begins with registration at 5 p.m., and the cruise, a long parade of unique vehicles heading out of town, begins at 7 p.m.
The evening concludes with a free concert from 8 p.m. to midnight by "Downtown Sound" in the park shelter. Concertgoers will be treated to music from the 1950s, 60s and beyond.
Saturday, June 16
Saturday morning also follows a familiar format, with the food stand opening at 9 a.m. and adding coffee and donuts to its menu.
Other events beginning at 9 a.m. include the horseshoe tournament, youth baseball games and a sheephead card tournament.
The tractor and truck pull begins at 11 a.m., with the truck division offering a new attraction to the already popular event.
New activities begin at noon with various activities for children ages 12 and under. As mentioned above, activities include bingo (20 games), face painting, coloring contest and a grand prize bicycle.
Magician Matt Dunn and a cast of live animals will perform a show at 3:30 p.m., and the reptile and amphibian zoo show starts at 5 p.m. with alligators, turtles, snakes, lizards and more.
"There’s a lot to come and see, scare the kids," said Gruenhagen with a laugh. "I hope they’re not too big. They’ll scare everybody away."
The day continues with music from "His By Grace," the praise band from St. John’s Lutheran Church, at 6 p.m., and Rock N Roll pro wrestling at the community hall at 7 p.m. The wrestling show, run by Hamburg native Buck ZumHofe, will feature the "Honky Tonk Man." Tickets are required for the wrestling show, and can be obtained from any Lions or fire department member.
Saturday concludes with a movie in the park shelter at 8 p.m. "Mr. Popper’s Penguins" will be showing, and popcorn, pop and ice cream floats will be available.
"Last year we started the movie in the park for the first time. We’ll see if we can make that a little bit of a tradition," said Gruenhagen.
Another returning feature of Saturday is an antique tractor show that will run all day.
Sunday, June 17
The food stand opens at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, and the always popular pork chop dinner starts at 11 a.m. in the park shelter along with music from Cindy Eggers.
A pedal pull competition for kids ages 4-11, one of the weekend’s biggest draws in recent years, begins with registration at 12:30 p.m. and the competition at 1 p.m.
"The fundraising we do goes for good causes. The fire department obviously needs to keep things up to date, get new equipment, so that’s worthwhile. And the Lions give to a lot of different areas," said Gruenhagen. "It’s primarily for vision and hearing, but we’ve started to do a lot with diabetes. We can also give money to Lions International, which helps in places like Haiti. It helps locally, around the state, and internationally. It’s all to help the public."
Gruenhagen also suggested that for those who haven’t seen Hamburg’s new Protective Services Memorial, the Zummerfest weekend would be a good opportunity to do so.
"A lot of people maybe haven’t seen that yet. It would be a good time to come and see that and stop for some food and drinks," he said.