LOMBARD – The longest-running festival in the Western suburbs returns to Lombard this weekend with rides, games, live music and, of course, German fare.
The 47th Annual Germanfest will be held all weekend at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 114 S. Elizabeth St. The festival is free and open to the public.
"This fest is like a celebration of our parish we like to share with Lombard and the surrounding communities," said John Brill, co-chairman of the festival committee.
Between 35,000 and 50,000 people typically attend the festival, which is held each year in the parish parking lot. The fest, which originally featured exclusively German music, has shifted in recent years to focus on "festival" bands.
"It has transformed from all German music, all day, all hours, to all festival bands with German music played in between [sets]," he said, explaining that expanding the focus has increased the popularity of the event.
Despite the shift away from German sounds, the German beer and traditional food – including bratwurst, pretzels, sauerkraut and strudel – will be plentiful, Brill said.
The festival also features a casino that includes Blackjack and poker.
"It's a very low-key area where they can test their luck," Brill said.
Carnival rides are also a focus, with mega-passes available for $55 that grant patrons unlimited rides throughout the weekend.
Funds collected from the festival are used for the parish school, donated to St. Vincent de Paul and used for parish improvements.
"This year, we are looking to rebuild our iconic bell tower," said Brill, a church parishioner.
The event begins Thursday and runs through Sunday night.
"It's an extremely family friendly fest that is sponsored by the village and supported by the police," Brill said.
_ _ _ _ _
If you go
What: 47 Annual Germanfest
When: 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday; 5:30 p.m. to midnight Friday; 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 114 S. Elizabeth St., Lombard
More info: Call the church at 630-627-0687 or visit www.sacredheartgermanfest.org.