What started as a summer afternoon get-together in Carillon Historical Park for Dayton Liederkranz-Turner members and their friends has grown into one of the most popular festivals in the Dayton area, the Germanfest Picnic. “Fred Bartenstein, who was President of the Dayton Foundation which ran Carillon Park at that time, came to me in 1983 and asked me to create something like an Oktoberfest to help give Carillon Park more visibility. I told him I couldn’t do that because Oktoberfest already belonged to the Dayton Art Institute, but then I suggested the Picnic. He went for it and here we are today,” recalled co-founder Wanda Wiedman (another Dayton Original). There was no electricity in the park that first year and members brought their own grills. There was no music in 1984. The following year, the Sauerkraut German Band, organized by civilian and military Wright-Patterson Air Force Base members, played and people danced on the blacktopped parking lot. From the third year on, authentic German bands have performed. Bands from Austria and Germany provided the impetus to expand the festival to 2 days, and finally to the entire weekend.
From afternoon picnic to a 3-day celebration of all things German, the Germanfest Picnic has helped put the Dayton Liederkranz-Turner Club on the map and keep it solvent. “In addition to providing several scholarships,” said President Uli Gaertner, “the funds raised by the Picnic each year enable the Liederkranz to continue its almost 125-year old tradition and mission of providing a real taste of Germany for the entire Dayton community, and preserving the rich German heritage of the Miami Valley.” Germanfest Picnic is truly a community event with participation by numerous nonprofit organizations including Special Olympics, United Rehabilitation Services, and several church and youth groups. The Germanfest Picnic is presented annually by the Dayton Liederkranz-Turner, a German singing society, whose purpose is the cultivation, furtherance, and maintenance of German song, dance, customs, culture, and language; the promotion of good fellowship among its members; and participation in civic affairs. This Dayton Original continues to be one of the best festivals of the summer with plenty of fun for the entire family!