116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It’s time to break out your lederhosen and twirl your dirndls. Maifest in the Amanas is ready to put some spring in your step Saturday and Sunday.
But first things first. It’s pronounced “MY-fest,” not “MAY-fest.”
“When you say the month of May in German, it’s pronounced `My,’ M-a-i,” said Elise Heitmann, executive director of the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She was born and raised in South Amana and now lives in Amana, so she’s well-versed in the Colonies, their history and traditions.
Most of this past year’s festivals, including Maifest, fell victim to the pandemic or were scaled way back.
“Last year, we didn’t do anything with Maifest,” Heitmann said. Instead, toward the end of the month, they combined a spring volksmarch with the Wine Walk that’s typically held during Maifest.
“Businesses were able to open up with limited capacity, to start to get a feel for things, and we did that Wine Walk as a way to get some local people in,” she said. “We knew we wouldn’t get much traveling (visitors), but just wanted to have something going on.”
Where: Amana Colonies
When: Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Saturday: Parade, 10 a.m.; Maipole Dancers, various sites, 10:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; The World on Wheels Food Trucks, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Amana Visitors Center; Festhalle Barn entertainment, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Barry Boyce Polka Band, Millstream Brewing Co., 1 to 5 p.m.; Hotel Millwright’s Mai Kind of Party, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Sunday: Wine, Beer and Chocolate Walk, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., $2 punch card at the Amana Visitors Center; Maipole Dancers, various sites, 12:30 to 2 p.m.; music by Nick Stika, 1 to 5 p.m., Millstream Brewing Co.
Details and online brochure: amanacolonies.com/things-to-do/festivals/maifest/ or Amana Visitors Center, 622 46th Ave., Amana
A Salute to the Veterans followed over the July Fourth weekend, with a small parade of bicycles, a backhoe, a hayride, and a couple of youth groups. Another tiny parade was held during A Touch of Germany, a scaled-back nod to Oktoberfest.
“It did end up being pretty busy,” Heitmann said of that mini fall celebration. “It was very nice to have socially distanced options that weren’t quite so crowded.”
Over the holidays and winter, the events kept coming, giving organizers the confidence to bring back Maifest.
"We got a handle for what sorts of things we feel comfortable with, as far as events go, especially for outdoor events versus indoor events,“ she said.
”The (Convention and Visitors Bureau) and the Amana Colonies Festivals Inc. haven’t hosted any indoor-type events, other than the Tannenbaum Forest, which still takes place in an unheated barn with very high ceilings and a draft coming in. So basically it’s outdoors, but technically covered with walls and a roof,“ Heitmann said.
“That was our first indoor event, and we did staggered entry for that, too, to space people out. We didn’t have any issues with that, and it made us comfortable with handling crowds on our own and still making sure people felt safe and comfortable, for volunteers as well as patrons.
“So we were pretty confident — especially with the weather and the focus on outdoor events, that Maifest will be just fine. And going into the year, Maifest is a good way to figure out if some of our other big events are going to be to happening the way that they normally happen.”
Maifest on parade
Maifest’s signature events are back, beginning with the parade at 10 a.m. Saturday in Amana, followed by the ever-popular Maipole Dancers, polka music by the Barry Boyce Polka Band of Omaha at Millstream Brewing Co., entertainment in the Festhalle Barn, dining indoors and out, and Sunday’s Wine, Beer and Chocolate Walk. New this year is the Hotel Millwright’s Mai Kind of Party, with entertainment, drink specials and a hog roast from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ve had quite a bit of interest in the parade,” Heitmann said last week, while entries were still coming in. “I’m sure it won’t be as big as the Maifest and Oktoberfest parades in the past, but there’s at least five floats that are signed up and five or so cars, as well as a bike group and a few groups that are walking, so it will be a lot bigger than any of the parades we saw last year.
The Colonies are known for restaurants serving up German food and beer. But Maifest moves even farther afield with The World on Wheels Food Truck Fare from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday near the Amana Visitors Center and Festhalle Barn. Local vendors will be serving up Caribbean cuisine, pizza, German potato pancakes, ice cream, beer and other foods with a global flair. Guests can hoist the brew in a fenced-in area and inside the barn, but can’t take it to the streets.
While the Colonies and Iowa County do not have mask mandates, visitors are asked to wear them, especially when standing in line, heading inside the Festhalle Barn or going into shops and restaurants — and to follow the instructions posted on doors.
Pre-pandemic, Maifest would draw between 3,000 and 5,000 visitors.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in Maifest,” Heitmann said, “so I’m hoping we get our numbers back up to that 3,000 range for Saturday”.
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