Just three years ago, a new event designed to reflect the German heritage of Seymour’s Oktoberfest was added to the schedule of events.
The stein hoist, one of several additions to the schedule either in place or planned for the future, has rapidly grown in popularity.
The first contest featured 12 competitors and one contest, while this year’s edition held Saturday afternoon during the 45th annual Oktoberfest, featured a separate contest for women.
The men’s event was won by Chad Hanley, 41, of Seymour, who was able to hold his stein filled with beer to the brim straight out for four minutes and six seconds. Tara Johnson, 37, of Seymour took the women’s contest with a time of seven minutes and seven seconds. The men hold a liter of beer, weighing about five pounds, while the women hold a half a liter.
Hanley, who moved to Seymour in 2012 from his hometown of Fostoria, Ohio, said he decided to enter the contest on a whim. It helps that he likes to drink beer.
“I always had been on the sideline the past couple of years,” he said. “I thought it would be pretty cool to try it.”
“Not to think about the pain,” he said. “It was a struggle.”
While Hanley said he plans on competing again next year to defend his title, Johnson has no such plan.
“I won’t do it again,” she said.
Johnson said she trains and lifts weights but didn’t practice very much for her attempt for the title, which didn’t come easily.
Jenice Elsner, 57, of Seymour finished second in the women’s contest.
Elsner said like Hanley, she’s watched the stein hoist each of the first two years.
“Each year, I thought I want to participate, so I did this year,” she said. “I think I should have beat her.”
Shortly before the six minute mark, Elsner’s arm and stein started shaking.
Elsner, however, was able to hold on for a second.
She said she didn’t practice for the contest.
“I just go to the gym every day,” she said.
Besides bragging rights, the winners receive a medal. All of the contestants received a stein, a T-shirt and a hat — and the beer inside the stein — which made it worth effort, David Arp of Omaha, Nebraska said.
“I just wish I could have done a little better,” he said.
Arp said it didn’t take long for his arm to start shaking.
“After that, you’re done,” he said.
Arp is a member of the German American Society in Omaha, and members of that group try to visit festivals, especially Oktoberfest and other German heritage events around the country such as the Bavarian Blast in New Ulm, Minnesota, whenever possible, he said.
Arp said he planned to be in Indianapolis to take in the Colts game Sunday and decided to visit Seymour’s Oktoberfest because he had read about it online and was interested in some of the events.
“This is a really good Oktoberfest here,” he said. “All of the activities they have for children is nice, and they have a lot of good food booths. It rates right up there with the best of them.”
Ben Stahl, president of the festival committee, said the stein hoist came about three years ago after he and Zach Clark saw a similar event at Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest.
“It seemed like such as an easy idea to bring back to Seymour,” he said.
Clark, who organizes the stein hoist each year, said it’s just one attempt to add a little more heritage from Germany’s Oktoberfest to Seymour’s.
“We’ve just been trying little things every year,” he said.
One of those changes involved opening the Biergarten on Wednesday night before the festival begins, and a second had Mayor Craig Luedeman tapping the first keg of beer served during the festival.
Clark said that one didn’t work out well because the decision to open the Biergarten a day earlier wasn’t taken into consideration.
Luedeman was initially supposed to tap the keg at 11 a.m. Thursday when the festival officially open, but it rained, and there wasn’t a lot of people around, so that was pushed back to 6 p.m.
“Next year, we’re going to have him (the mayor) do it at 5 p.m. Wednesday when we do open so it is the first official keg,” Clark said.
Another change in the works involves a contest allowing the public the chance to design a new logo for the festival each year.
The idea is not to eliminate longtime mascots, Hans and Franz but to get the community more involved, Clark said.
Rules for the 2018 logo contest can be found at seymouroktoberfest.com/logo and the winner will receive a cash prize.
Other than a series of thunderstorms that past through the area Saturday evening, everything went well. Those storms led to the closing of the festival at 8:15 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. for safety reasons.
“We have had plenty of sunshine, warm weather,” he said. “It has been going fantastic. Our crowds last night (Friday night) are like Saturday when it’s the busiest. Everybody is out here having a good time.
“The parade went well. There’s a lot of people who support it and even more people come out and watch it.”
He said there have been more than 500 responses to an online survey conducted during the festival.
“Monday morning, we have our wrapup meeting, and we’ll start digging into those comments,” he said.
Marching band: Shelbyville High School, first; Brownstown Central High School, second
Performing unit: Covered Bridge Health Campus, first; STEPS Dance Center, second
Antique tractor: Lowell Wessel, first; Pink Tractor, second
Commercial unit: Fear Fair, first; Jay C Food Stores, second
Marching unit: Cub Scout Pack 529
Drill team: Brownstown Central High School Band of Braves and drill team, first; Shelbyville High School marching band, second
Color guard: Southport Armed Forces Cadets
Antique car/truck: Freeman Army Airfield Museum, first; 2 Old Geezers, second
Float: Lutheran Mission Federation, first; Aldi, second; STEPS Dance Center, third
Hitch team: Wesley Miniature Horse Farm, first
Horse and rider: Reins to Recovery Therapeutic Riding Center, first
Emergency/service vehicles: Crothersville Police Department, first; Jackson County Public Library Discovery Bus, second
Judge’s choice: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925