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County celebrates heritage in many ways

Ellis County is home to numerous festivals throughout the summer months and into the fall. From Riverfest to Oktoberfest, Ellis County residents can find a way to stay busy and entertained.

The first festival is Riverfest in Ellis. The event is hosted by the Ellis Chamber of Commerce on the second weekend of June each year.

For more information about Riverfest, contact the Ellis Chamber of Commerce at (785) 726-2660.

The weekend nearest the Fourth of July is the traditional date for Wild West Festival in Hays at Municipal Park on south Main Street.

For more information about Wild West Festival, contact (785) 623-4476 or info@wildwestfestival.com. Visit the Wild West Festival website at www.wildwestfestival.com.

Also in July is the Ellis County Fair. Events at the fair include 4-H activities such as showing animals and fine arts.

For more information about the Ellis County Fair, visit www.elliscountyfair.com.

The Ellis Junior Free Fair annually is during the final week of July, beginning Tuesday and running through Saturday. Now in its 81st year, the free fair features sand volleyball and horseshoe tournaments, baseball games, children's games, hog wrestling and a free barbecue.

More information about the Ellis Junior Free Fair can be found by calling (785) 726-3636.

Herzogfest, a free celebration, is celebrating its 31st anniversary Aug. 9 and 10. Herzogfest features live music, a 5K run/walk, polka Mass, parade, kids' pedal pull, 3-on-3 basketball, bingo, pinochle, free swimming, vendors, rod, custom and cycle show. Weather permitting, there will be hot air balloon rides Aug. 10. Also new in 2013 is "Let's Make a Deal," replacing the talent show.

In 2013, Herzogfest also will feature free concerts from LoCash Cowboys, Paramount, Jimmy Dee and the Fabulous Destinations, Wes Windholz Band and Galen Schmidtberger.

For details on Herzogfest, visit www.herzogfest.com or email webmaster@herzogfest.com.

Sept. 21 and 22 will be the third annual Harold Dorzweiler Cancer Memorial Fund Polka Fest at the Ellis County Fairgrounds.

Activities begin at 11 a.m. Sept. 21 and 10:30 a.m. Sept. 22, with polka bands, a wedding dinner both days and beer garden. Funds will be raised through the event for cancer patients and their families. For more information, call (785) 625-5256.

In 2013, the Volga German Society will have its Oktoberfest on Oct. 4. Oktoberfest is an annual celebration of the Volga-German heritage of Ellis County.

Oktoberfest is celebrated on the Friday before Fort Hays State University's homecoming celebration. In the past, the festival has brought nearly 10,000 people to Frontier Park for music, food, crafts, games and a beer garden.

The Volga German Society promotes the heritage of the German immigrants with various events and programs.

For more information, contact the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce at (785) 628-8201.

On Nov. 8, a traditional German Lanternfest will be at Kris Kuksi Fine Art Gallery, 807 Main, Hays.

The festival of lanterns is a German tradition that takes place in the evening on or near the Feast Day of St. Martin. Parents, families and neighbors gather together for a small, neighborhood parade led by St. Martin and his white horse.

Lanternfest is an evening for children to make a lantern, learn the lantern songs and sing them as they walk with lit lanterns through downtown streets with lanterns in hand. The event will feature warm baked goodies and beverages. $5 per family and a can food donation. For information, contact Codi at (785) 259-6552 or Gwyn at gwyn.kuksi@gmail.com