In less than 3 weeks the City of New Ulm will be celebrating the 14th year of Bavarian Blast, the biggest festival of the summer! While I was going about my to-do list a few weeks back listing Advance 4-Day Event passes for sale at wheelerdealermn.com, the sounds of “Dinnerbell Hour” playing Whoopee John initiated small talk between two older gentlemen in the lobby at KNUJ. During their conversation, I overheard “back in the day,” “goose town” &“dancing the night away at George’s”. I couldn’t help but notice the smiles while the two of them were reminiscing about the past. For whatever reason, this sparked my interest and I began searching online for the history of New Ulm’s festivals, ballroom dancing, and the love of polka.
George’s Ballroom opened its doors on October 15, 1947. Every night hundreds of polka fans would crowd the dance floor to enjoy the performances of local bands, many of them later rising to national fame. May 22, 1949, KNUJ AM 860 went on the air and was known as “The Polka Station of the Nation”. In 1953, city leaders decided to capitalize on the popularity of the music and New Ulm started a street celebration known as Polka Days. For years New Ulm was known worldwide for the July festival on Minnesota Street. It featured more than a dozen bands and attracted thousands of people who would dance and drink till all hours of the night. As the years passed by and the annual event’s popularity became too big, New Ulm city officials decided to end Polka Days in the summer of 1971.
The love of music continued in 1975 with a new name and new location. For 30 years, people would travel from all over the world to attend Heritagefest at the Brown County Fairgrounds. In addition to the musical entertainment, the German-style lagers, authentic food, activities, and the parade on Sunday- there was always fun for the whole family. In its final years’ attendance began to drop and the fest came to an end. In July of 2005, Bavarian Blast, a weekend-long German-American Music celebration replaced Heritagefest. Nationally known musicians, local favorites, polka bands, and even the “Ambassadors of Goodwill” – The Concord Singers take the stage and entertain the crowd all weekend long. Excellent food, contests, 5-10K Run/Walk, a unique polka church service, and the parade are just a few events that you don’t want to miss. For more details and the daily entertainment schedule, check out bavarianblast.com
Come to the Blast & find out for yourself why Germans Have More Fun: July 18-21, 2019.