Despite the pandemic, two beloved festivals report a fantastic weekend

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Two long-time area festivals known for fun and food reinvented themselves for the pandemic and had a weekend of great success, according to organizers.

If you measure accomplishment by food, the 37th annual Germanfest Picnic Lite was a triumph.

Dayton Liederkranz-Turner scaled down its annual picnic and moved it from RiverScape to an outdoor area at its facility in St. Anne’s Hill. The event featured options to enjoy food and beer onsite in reserved space or order it to go.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

The organization estimated it would need a quarter of the food it usually sells for this year’s version that kicked off Friday night, said Judy Schneider, who handles public relations for the event.

Growlers of German beer quickly sold out and organizers had to make more German potato salad and sauerkraut and an additional order of schnitzel and brats for Saturday.

“People were buying dinners by the dozen and taking them home,” Schneider said.

A few glitches that caused traffic to back up for curbside orders were worked out Friday evening at the start of the picnic and by Saturday they “had a nice steady flow,” she said.

Organizers were also pleased with visitor cooperation.

“Everyone came masked and stayed masked” and followed social distancing protocols, Schneider said. “I think they were just happy to be out.”

Proceeds from the festival are used to maintain the historic Dayton Liederkranz-Turner building. The organization is on its way to raising the $13,000 it needs this year but donations can still be made at

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Germanfest T-shirts and face masks sold out over the weekend but cookbooks and hat pins are still available for purchase.

Virtual events, including the opening ceremonies and polka bands, can be viewed on the Germanfest Picnic website.

The weekend also marked the 69th Versailles Poultry Days.

Dubbed the “Home of World Famous Barbeque Chicken,” the event sold meals-to-go through a four lane drive-thru this year.

Video on the event Facebook page captured a long line of cars waiting to pick up orders of slow-cooked BBQ chicken basted with a secret blend of spices known for falling right off the bone.

Eric Stachler, a past chairman and the current publicity chair of the event, said he estimated three-quarters of the cars came from outside Darke County. “They were driving here from all over.”

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

During planning festival organizers lowered expectations and hoped to sell 20,000 chicken halves this year compared to 29,000 sold last year. By the time they sold out Sunday, 21,850 had been sold. “We were completely overwhelmed,” Stachler said.

Organizers also credit innovation for the success. This year they delivered chicken halves packed in coolers within 25 miles of Versailles. Stachler said 11,000 halves were sold that way and the delivery service will continue next year.

Part of the proceeds from Poultry Days help maintain Heritage Park, a 40-acre site in Versailles. Stachler said they hoped to raise $60,000 over the weekend and “we feel confident we did that.”

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