Temperatures have cooled down, the rides have taken over the B & O Parking Lot and downtown street signs have changed to German.

That can only mean one thing — the Seymour Oktoberfest is almost upon us.

The 44th annual festival celebrating the community’s German heritage is the city’s biggest event of the year, attracting crowds upward of 75,000 to 100,000 people to downtown Seymour.

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It officially begins its three-day run at 11 a.m. Thursday. At that time, all food, activity, arts and crafts booths and the biergarten will open.

Downtown streets will be closed through Saturday night.

There are nearly 70 booths this year to delight festival-goers, offering everything from authentic German cuisine to traditional Indiana fare to Oktoberfest favorites.

Besides bringing tourism to Seymour, the festival also helps many local nonprofit organizations raise money. That’s one of the main reasons the festival started back in 1973.

Kay Schwade, chairperson of the festival, said over the years, those responsible for organizing the festival have been able to maintain it at a level where people want to come back.

“It’s tradition,” she said. “People expect great food, fun activities, free music and a place to meet up with friends.”

The popularity of the festival is rooted in its hometown feel, she said.

“A lot of people use it as reunions for schools and families,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to see people, rekindle friendships and make new friends. There’s such camaraderie in this event, and what a great way to share our community.”

Jason White of Seymour said he enjoys the festival because it’s like a homecoming. There are many things he looks forward to.

“Family and friends come back to town. The smell. The sounds. The feeling of a community enjoying each other’s company,” he said.

Amanda Jones of Seymour said the Oktoberfest is a great place for kids and for families and friends to meet up.

“I love running into people I haven’t seen in a long time,” she said. “And the pumpkin rolls, oh so yummy.”

She also likes to watch her kids have fun on the rides.

“And this is silly, but we even enjoy riding the trolley from the high school to the downtown,” she said.

Those wanting to get a jump on the festivities can make their way downtown today for carnival rides from 5 to 11 p.m. with a $20 bracelet.

Opening ceremonies of the festival, including a performance from the Seymour High School Marching Owls and the presentation of awards for best booths, window decorating and the baking contest, will begin at 4:45 p.m. Thursday, followed by the crowning of the Oktoberfest prince and princess at 6 p.m. on the north stage at Third and Chestnut streets.

On Friday, kids can stop by Kinderplatz Nummer Ein (One Kids Square) at the corner of St. Louis Avenue and Chestnut Street from noon to 4 p.m. for free painting and coloring activities. One Kids Square also is open Saturday.

The RE/MAX Balloon Glow and Balloon Race have been moved from Seymour High School to the grassy lots of the former Shields High School at the corner of West Fifth and North Walnut streets. The balloon glow begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and the race lifts off at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

Other highlights of the festival include free musical performances, a polka and chicken dance contest, a 5K walk/run, a parade, a stein hoist, a baby contest, a brat eating contest, a talent show and a flea market.

For some people, it’s just too difficult to pick the best thing about the Seymour Oktoberfest.

“I have no favorites,” said Linda Hinton of Seymour. “I love it all.”

If you go

Schedule of events for 44th annual Seymour Oktoberfest

For more information: www.seymouroktoberfest.com or call 812-523-1414

Today

5 to 11 p.m. – Carnival rides and games (bracelets $20)

Thursday

11 a.m. to 11 pm. booths open daily, biergarten opens.

10 a.m. to noon – baking contest (Community Foundation Building, 107 Community Dr.)

5 to 11 p.m. – carnival open

6 to 8 p.m. – register for the baby contest at the information booth

Throughout the day look for roving musicians including accordionist Larry VonEssen, the Lost Mill String Band and The Spoon Man.

North Stage (Third and Chestnut streets)

4:45 to 6 p.m. Opening Ceremonies – Seymour High School Band concert, booth awards, window decorating awards and baking contest awards

6-6:30 Prince and Princess contest

8 p.m. free concert by The Lasting Hope

South Stage (S. Chestnut St.)

6 to 7 p.m. Stars and Stripes Cloggers

7 to 11 p.m. Bluegrass music

West Stage (W. Second St.)

6:30 to 10:30 p.m. German band Schulhaus 4+3, polka, bunny hop and chicken dance

Friday

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. booths and biergarten open

Noon to 4 p.m. Kinderplatz Nummer Ein (One Kid’s Square) free painting and coloring activities

1 to 11 p.m. carnival rides and games

6 to 8 p.m. register for the baby contest at the information booth

7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Hot Air Balloon Glow, grass lot on the corner of W. Fifth St. and N. Walnut St, formerly site of Shields Junior High School

Throughout the day look for roving musicians including accordionist Larry VonEssen, the Lost Mill String Band and The Spoon Man.

North Stage

6 to 7 p.m. Columbus Clogging Co.

8 p.m. 100% Angus: An AC/DC Tribute Band – free

South Stage

5 to 6 p.m. Brown Bouncing Bears jump rope team from Margaret R. Brown Elementary School

6 to 7 p.m. Country Kickers

7 to 11 p.m. Bluegrass music

West Stage

6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Schulhaus 4+3 German band; polka, bunny hop and chicken dance

6:30 p.m. polka and chicken dance contest featuring the Second Street Dancers.

Saturday

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. booths and biergarten open

7 to 8 a.m. registration for the 5K Walk/Run at Seymour High School

8 a.m. 5K Walk/Run at Seymour High School

9 a.m. registration from cornhole tournament at Gaiser Park

9:20 a.m. 5K Walk/Run awards presented at Seymour High School

10:15 a.m. Cornhole tournament at Gaiser Park

10:30 a.m. to noon – Registration for horseshoe tourney at Gaiser Park

Noon – horseshoe tourney at Gaiser Park

Noon to 4 p.m. Kinderplatz Nummer Ein (One Kids Square); free painting and coloring activities for kids

1:30 p.m. parade, starts on Community Drive

4 p.m. Game of SKATE, Schurman-Grubb Skate Park

4 p.m. Stein hoist at the biergarten

4 p.m. hot air balloons arrive at grass lot on the corner of W. Fifth and N. Walnut streets

1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Carnival rides and games open

Throughout the day look for roving musicians including accordionist Larry VonEssen, the Lost Mill String Band and The Spoon Man.

North Stage

9:30 to 10:30 a.m. baby contest

3 to 5 p.m. free concert by These Fine Gentlemen

5 p.m. presentation of parade trophies

6:30 p.m. brat eating contest

7:30 to 9 p.m. talent show

South Stage

3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Cornerstone Community Church Praise Team

5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Southern Indiana Taiko (Japanese drumming)

7 to 11 p.m. Bluegrass music

West Stage

2:30 to 4 p.m. Schulhaus 4+3 German band

6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Schulhaus 4+3 German band

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.