Endless food, German beer and Oompa-pa bands return downtown for the popular Germanfest Picnic

Scenes from the 2016 Germanfest Picnic at Carillon Historical Park.

A thousand pounds of potatoes arrived early Monday morning at Dayton’s Liederkranz-Turner club and that could only mean one thing— Germanfest is almost here.  

“If you are looking for authenticity, this is the place to come,” according to the event’s Facebook.

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Mike Duncan sips a beer before playing a set at the 28th Annual Dayton Liederkranz-Turner Germanfest Picnic on Sunday, Aug. 14, at Carillon Historical Park.
Photo: Chris Stewart
Germanfest Picnic at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton.

Organizers of Germanfest have added a brand new, second stage for the first time ever that will feature more “alternative” music than what is traditionally performed at the festival, including jazz, acoustic rock and more.

In addition, a second biergarten will be set up near the new second stage. 

The Germanfest Picnic, run by the Liederkranz-Turner organization, came from humble beginnings in the summer of 1984. Though event organizers have held fast to the basic tenets, last year’s festival found its new home at RiverScape MetroPark. The festival will celebrate its 35th year once again in Downtown Dayton. 

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“The Celtic Fest and other festivals have put RiverScape MetroPark on the map as Dayton’s favorite spot to celebrate, and we look forward to building on that tradition, and infusing it with our own special German ambience – we call it Gemütlichkeit,” Liederkranz-Turner said in a news release. 

Paul Behlau (left) and his wife Sandy take time away from selling and serving beer to dance. Photo submitted by Peter Wine.

Carillon Historical Park, venue of the fest until 2016, has watched the festival blossom since its very first gathering. And while change can be bittersweet, moving Germanfest Picnic to RiverScape allowed for extended hours and overall festival growth.

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What began as a small club event, the Dayton Germanfest has become everything an all-encompassing German heritage celebration could ever hope to be. And of course, it’s all kicked-off Friday evening with a keg tapping.

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Last year’s Germanfest concentrated on expanding the authentic food options available at the festival. Needless to say, we think they accomplished their mission. 

Bratwurst cook on the grill at the Liederkranz-Turner 27th Annual Germanfest Picnic at Carillon Historical Park.
Photo: Chris Stewart

Schnitzel dinners, brats, metts, German potato salad, sauerkraut, authentic German desserts and Gürkensalat (cucumber salad) will all be a part of the celebration. Not to mention pastries and brotchen (buns) baked on-site, warm and ready to transport brats into your belly.

In the early years of the picnic, you only had a few bottled beers to choose from, and -- much to the horror of beer barons near and far, no German draft beer. Now the Germanfest is known for its German draft beer, with an ever growing list of craft options.

Allison, 8, enjoys the music of Organ Grinder Ted at the festival each year. Photo submitted by Melissa Wagner.

The Germanfest Picnic is also built to be family friendly, with a kids play area, Culture Display, 5K and 10K race, and genealogy assistance.

“Parents can sit, enjoy a beer, and let their kids play for two hours or so,” said John Koerner, Germanfest Picnic Chairman. 

Other happenings at the picnic include a traditional Polka mass, a Bavarian fashion show, a chance to win a Grand Raffle prize trip for two to Germany PLUS $1,000 of spending money. 


What: 35th Annual Germanfest Picnic 

Where: Riverscape MetroPark, 237 E. Monument Ave., Dayton

When: Aug. 10-12

Cost: Free admission

More info: Website | 937-429-9251