27th Annual Bock Fest in New Ulm

Drink good beer, eat delicious food, and enjoy fun entertainment at August Schell Brewing Co. on Mar. 2

Photo courtesy August Schell’s Brewing Co.

Some people put their hope for spring in a little groundhog; others prefer to take it into their own hands and hunt down the seven bocks (wooden goat heads) in Flandrau State Park during the annual Bock Fest at August Schell Brewing Co. on March 2.

The task isn’t easy; the clues that Schell’s president Ted Marti gives are blatantly puzzling and unhelpful, and there are infinite places the bocks can be hidden across the (apparently snowy) landscape. However, you do have some people—or rather, human “St. Bernard dogs”—on your side, who will be out and about with kegs of beer strapped on them to raise the spirits of the weariest scavenger.

If you don’t want to join in on the hunt, then raise a glass and relax with thousands of other people at this outdoor festival. Bock, somewhat akin to a dark amber strong German lager, will of course be flowing, and you can fill up on about 1,000 pounds of brats and 80 gallons of kraut. To accompany your beer party, the Bockfest Boys (whose instruments include an accordion, of course) usually play, and even if you’re not a fan of the music style, you have to admit, it does get you in the mood.

Bock Fest usually happens the weekend before the German festival Fasching, also known as Karneval, ends. Fasching starts Nov. 11 at 11:11 a.m. (don’t worry, we missed it, too), but it ends the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, making it more or less the country’s version of Mardis Gras. These last (rowdy) days are meant to be a good time, so we think living it up at the second oldest brewery in the U.S. is the way to do it. 

Oh, and one last word of advice: While costumes are certainly not required, they usually add to the fun. Festival goers have seen vikings, lederhosen, and even bears, so pick your poison and double down.