ST. PETER — Polkas will be playing, tap beer will be flowing and folks will turn out to celebrate St. Peter's German traditions at the third annual Oktoberfest, which starts tonight in the downtown lot near Grace Street and Highway 169.
This year, add watching a parade on a crisp fall day to the festival's other enjoyable features — like listening to tuba tunes outdoors — with a stein in hand.
Tonight's Test the Taps party is an added event for the festival. Gates open at 5 p.m. with Larry Novotny's One Man Tuba Band as entertainment. From 6-9 p.m., serious business will be conducted — checking on the taps to guarantee beer will flow freely throughout Oktoberfest.
Festmeister Tom Thorkelson will tap this year's kegs, lead the festival's three-block parade and make sure everyone is having a good time.
Finding someone with the credentials necessary to be the festival's figurehead was John Mayer's responsibility. He chose someone who was over a certain age, who has his name misspelled often by the media and who is familiar with leiderhosen. Most importantly, the festmeister had to have his wife's permission to participate.
"St. Peter's become a music town," Thorkelson said Monday. Minnesota Square Parks draws crowd for the Ambassadors Blues Fest and Rock Bend Folk Festival , there's always Irish tunes playing for St. Paddy's Day and a variety of concerts throughout the year — up and down the hill. This weekend, it's time for German songs to shine.
Friday's performers include the New Ulm Wendinger Band and the Riverbend Dutchmen take the stage Saturday afternoon.
The band Eagle River plays Friday evening and the Bockfest Boys and IV Play are slated Saturday.
Oktoberfest also features a Kid's Corner with family-friendly activities and bean bag and bocce ball contests. Food and beverage vendors will be on hand all three evenings of the festival. For the brave at heart and strong of stomach, there's a sauerkraut-eating contest Friday night.