Germanfest succeeds for Sacred Heart – Saint Joseph Parish

Sacred Heart – Saint Joseph Catholic Parish celebrated German heritage when it presented Germanfest for two days June 7 and 8 at their parish on 312 N Freeman Ave. in Topeka, Kan. The opening at 4 p.m. Saturday started with celebrating an outdoor Holy Mass spoken in German.

The festivities began with a host of authentic German cuisine with a line of more than a thousand women, men and children, flowing out into the streets waiting to get through the food lines.

Beer gardens and snack bars supplemented the hot food stands and kept the lines flowing smoothly. Standing in a food line were Sherri and Bob Kennedy, who have a daughter attending Washburn University.

“We have been coming to Germanfest for three or four years now,” said Sherri. “We’re addicted to the Bratwurst.”

The two-day schedule of events was a long one with many opportunities to win prizes. A sampling of some of the prizes include: a 42 inch flat screen television, a 1930’s Ford Street Rod, a laptop computer, an Apple ipad 2 Tablet, a $250 Gift card for Dillon’s grocery store, and a grand prize of $5,000. But there was also an “Oral” auction that had at least 68 items to sell. That is not to exclude the silent auctions held on both Saturday and Sunday.

There was a wheel of fortune and tab pulls for goodie-laden baskets, a ride on a mini trackless train for the kiddies, T-shirts (“I’m German for a weekend”), raffles, bingo, scads and scads of jewelry were for sale. There were so many activities there was even a 5K Sacred Heart – St. Joseph walk/run Saturday morning called the “Brat Trot.”

Saturday evening from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. a polka band played so adventurous dancers  to show their movies at the end of the night. After the 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning Mass there was no day of rest for the dancers, feasters, revelers or the hundreds of Germanfest volunteer workers.

This festival is the first part of a festival called “Tour Le Parish,” that begins with the Germanfest and includes the activities of other Catholic parishes in the area during the coming months.

Father of St. Joseph’s parish, Tim Haberkorn, dressed in Lederhosen, explained that the Germanfest fundraiser has been going on for more than 40 years. It has been known by different names and incarnations. Haberkorn’s family background is Russian. His relatives made it to America by way of Germany.

“They call us Volga German’s or Volga Deutsch,” said Haberkorn. “We are a very ethnic church that is almost all German…It’s amazing. We have had so many people of different nationalities show up on both days to support our schools.”

Germanfest is a benefit held for Sacred Heart – Saint Joseph Parish, supporting Holy Family Catholic School and Hayden Catholic High School.

As the festivities were winding down there were still crowds of hundreds of people enjoying the party atmosphere. Ann Meier, a concession stand worker with three grandchildren attending WU, was serving Margaritas because all 51 kegs of beer had depleted before the end of the festivities at 5 p.m Sunday.