VICTORIA — For locals, it’s a celebration of heritage, and for all, it’s a weekend full of free entertainment and activities.
Herzogfest, Victoria’s annual festival centered around the history and traditions of Volga-German settlers, will be Aug. 9 and 10.
“We’re one of the only free festivals, meaning you don’t have to pay to come in and see the concert. So free nightly music is, I think, our biggest draw outside of our own community,” said Ashley Kanzenbach, president of the Herzogfest committee.
“But for the people here in Victoria, obviously, it’s just a good community celebration, the reason why we celebrate, which is the people who settled here,” she said.
Volga-German settlers formed a community, Herzog, in what is now the northeast corner of Victoria. While the English settlers who founded Victoria soon left due to the harsh climate, the Volga-Germans felt at home in the hot summers and cold winters.
While the Herzog name faded after the turn of the century, descendants of the Volga-German settlers who wanted to preserve the old traditions brought it back for the festival.
The eight-member committee is joined by volunteers from the community each year for the festival.
“Our volunteers are anyone from everybody’s spouses, the school has a lot of volunteers, the church. We’re always looking for more, though,” Kanzenbach said.
The events begin Friday with the grounds opening at 5 p.m. and an opening ceremony at 6 p.m.
The weekend’s concerts include Red Dirt music from Jaron Bell and Bart Crow, and cover bands Candice and the Business Casual from Wichita and Hays’ DOC.
In between, there’s a 5K color run, car show, Herzog Heritage Market, polka Mass and more.
An afternoon jam session Aug. 10 will be led by local musicians Tom Pfiefer, Laura Klaus, Bob Dreiling and Blake Ruder.
“That will be a good way to come spend the afternoon and listen to some live acoustic music while people eat their lunch and wait for polka Mass,” Kanzenbach said.
Children’s activities will be concentrated in a new area and will be known as Kinderfest.
“There have always been kids’ activities at Herzogfest — bounce houses, different games and activities for free — but we just gave it a name this year and a new location. We’ll have a few other little small things up our sleeves that will be new,” she said.
Other events include stein hoisting contests, corn hole tournament, car show, food tournaments, horseshoe tournament and roller rockets derby.