OWOSSO — The sixth annual Oktoberfest returns to downtown Owosso Friday and Saturday — and during this year’s event, there could be a world record set.
Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Deason said the event began as a way to pay tribute to the heritage of area residents, as well as agriculture, in which many people work.
“We were looking to do a harvest time-type of festival because not much is going on this time of year,” he said. “Having Oktoberfest has been really fulfilling to us as the Chamber, because it’s not really a Chamber event, it’s a community event.”
Deason said farming is the backbone of Shiawassee County.
“We are primarily an agriculture-based community. How farmers are doing has a big impact on what kind of resources they are able to put back into the community. It’s a huge portion of our economy here.” he said.
One of this year’s highlights is a world record attempt Saturday night. At approximately 8:45 p.m., weightlifter Casey Lambert will attempt a Guinness World Record for “most weight squatted overhead in one minute.”
The current record was set in 2017 at 4,042 pounds, He will be attempting to surpass 5,000 pounds with a 154.32-pound barbell. Lambert must complete 33 repetitions in one minute to reach his goal.
While Lambert’s attempt hopefully will draw a crowd, most people still attend for three things: Beer, food and polka music. Last year, Deason said, one man came all the way from Toronto for the music.
And this year, Oktoberfest will feature the 35-piece German band Ein Prosit from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Members of the band dress in traditional German trachten (the short, leather pants with suspenders) and replicate traditional German culture. They play a variety of different instruments, including alphorns, accordions and cowbells.
Returning this year will be authentic German food, as well. Oktoberfest has received permission to use a 200-year-old family recipe for traditional German bratwurst from a butchery near Munich. The recipe has been tested and perfected by Willi’s Sausage Co. of Frankenmuth.
“You won’t get those anywhere else. They’re amazing,” Deason said.
Events throughout the weekend include the Beer Run 5K walk/run will at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
There will be a crossfit competition at 10 a.m. Saturday.
From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, on the Armory lawn, there will be free children’s activities, including make-and-take pumpkin painting, a bounce house and pumpkin bowling with prizes.
The Shiawassee Family YMCA will conduct a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at 10 a.m. And, new this year, will be a corn hole tournament at noon in the biergarten.
Friday’s music lineup includes Lenny Gomulka and The Chicago Push Band alternating with the The Polka Riot. Friday will also feature authentic “Schuhplattler” dancers.
Saturday, the biergarten features happy hour from 2 to 4 p.m. with buy one, get one free admission.
At 2 p.m., polka music begins with the international touring and Gomulka and the Chicago Push.
The Chicago Push will alternate with New Brass Express. Both six-piece bands will play until 8 p.m.
At 9 p.m., the 1980s-’90s cover band, Bachelors Since Breakfast, starts and continues until midnight.
In addition, Saturday activities feature “masskrugstemmen” or the beer stein holding contest at 8:15 p.m.
Admission to the biergarten is $10 per day or $15 for a weekend armband. Designated drivers will be provided free admission and a special armband for complimentary nonalcoholic beverages.
Deason said the event is a boon for the local economy.
“There are a lot of people that come into town and retail and a lot of other businesses are affected. A lot of times after the biergarten is closed people will move to other venues around town.”
He said another benefit is the partnerships that Oktoberfest has forged with area nonprofits, like the YMCA.
“The partnerships are great because the events help the nonprofits raise some money,” Deason said.
The entire event is open to the public and those under 21 are allowed everywhere, including the biergarten.