Bockfest draws chilly crowd

NEW ULM – Not even a below-zero temperature and a minus 24-degree wind chill could keep thousands of Bockfest-goers away from the August Schell Brewery Saturday.

A number of fest-goers departed the grounds before the music stopped at 4 p.m. Saturday but most of them remained till the end, enjoying the annual event celebrating the end of winter with food and drink.

“It’s not really so bad, the cold. You keep your hands around it, and the beer doesn’t freeze as fast,” said Rodney Zimmer of New Ulm, his big hands wrapped around a large beer mug.

Many people brought large, plastic beer mugs to the event and battled the cold weather by swirling the beer around inside and/or drinking it as fast as they could. “It doesn’t ice up as fast if you move it around,” one man said.

The Bockfest Boys played on all afternoon despite the cold.

A couple near the band stage-Lindsey Overaas of Jackson and Kristian Botten of Hanska-danced the afternoon away, hand in hand. Old Man Winter’s chilly bite, especially strong for most of the season, didn’t seem to numb unprotected skin until fest-goers left the woodsy road near the brewery.

The crowd slowly began to dwindle as the afternoon wore on. Dozens of port-potties lined roads at the brewery. Most fest-goers dressed for the weather, wearing multiple layers of heavy clothing.

The departing crowd put smiles on the faces of women and girls selling Girl Scout cookies near the Bockfest entrance and near the Target store parking lot.

Law enforcement, sober cabs, vans and buses were easy to spot outside the brewery grounds. Traffic appeared to be under control as the festival ended.

“It’s really a good crowd this year,” said retired Minnesota State Trooper Kevin Guggisberg of New Ulm, who worked security at the festival entrance and exit.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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