Bockfest braces for crowds, cold

NEW ULM – Cold weather be damned, Bockfest, Fasching and related events will go on this weekend.

After all, the idea of getting over a cold winter with beer, dancing, food and looking for the elusive seven bocks around the August Schell Brewery is what Bockfest is about. Legend has it, if all seven bocks of winter are found and returned to the brewery, winter will release its icy grip with an early spring.

Schell’s Brewmaster Ted Marti says not even below zero temperatures and several inches of snow will keep most revelers away. “The true Bockfesters will be here. It may be one of, if not the coldest, Bockfest in our 28 years of hosting it, but we can use tents and heaters to keep the beer from freezing. We’ll keep the fires going around the brewery. People need to dress for the weather.”

Marti said 3,500 Bockfest advance tickets were sold. Tickets will be available Saturday at the gate, on the road leading to Schell’s for the over-21 event scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Bockfest Boys band member Scott Sparlin of New Ulm said this year’s weather may challenge musicians more than other people.

“We’ve performed at all the previous Bockfests, but the weather was never this cold (possibly below zero degrees all day),” Sparlin said. “We’ve been lucky in the past. The previous coldest Bockfest temperatures were in the 20s. It’ll be a challenge. We’ll need some extra heat. The cold is tough on the instruments too. Other than that, it should be Bockfest as usual.”

While many buses and vans will bring people to Bockfest, the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce, aided by local business donations, is sponsoring a Bock Buck Bus that will transport anyone for $1 each time they get on-board, between 3 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday.

The Bock Bus route begins at the Econo Lodge parking lot, 1901 S. Broadway, then stops at 3rd North and Minnesota, Center and Minnesota, Turner Hall, the Holiday Inn, New Ulm Event Center and back to the Econo Lodge.

“I think people will be hip to the Bock Buck Bus,” said Terry Sveine of the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce.

Schell’s Brewery will operate its free shuttle van between the brewery, downtown and Holiday Inn from 7 p.m. Saturday to 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

Revelry actually begins about 1 p.m. Friday when The Narren kidnap New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman at City Hall and parade him around downtown.

The New Ulm Event Center, 301 20th St. South, will host Bockfest before and after concerts. The Johnny Holm Band will perform 9 p.m. Friday to 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Concert-goers wearing lederhosen or dirndls get in free.

Shirts and Skins, a band that says it sounds like Blondie mixed with Guns N’ Roses, and other bands, performs from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the New Ulm Event Center. IV Play, who plays arena rock, ’80s hair metal, ’90s grunge and today’s pop hits, performs from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, Fasching begins Saturday noon at Turner Hall with the Concord Singers on stage. Dale Dahmen and the Polka Beats plays from 1-3 p.m.; the Wendinger Band, 4-5:30 p.m.; and Dale Dahmen 5:30-7 p.m. The Parade of Costumes begins at 7 p.m. The Concord Singers perform at 7:30 p.m. followed by the Wendinger Band at 8:30 p.m.

Turner Hall hosts a Minnesota Music Hall of Fame fundraiser from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday upstairs. Dain’s Dutchmen perform at noon, Wally Pikal with Harvey Becker at 1:35 p.m., the Leon Helget Band at 3:10 p.m. and the Bockfest Boys at 4:40 p.m.

Entertainment in the lower level of Turner Hall features a concertina jamboree with Nancy Buckentine, Nancy Brooks, Jon Wendinger, Leo Lentz and friends on drums and tuba.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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