If you like a good bratwurst, don't miss the St. James Brats and Crafts Festival this weekend at St. James Lutheran Church, 5660 Trabue Road in Columbus.

The festival is open 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5.

Parking and admission are free.

Almost 5,000 bratwursts are expected to be consumed during the three-day festival, said Steve Dodson, who has been chairman of the festival for 34 of its 35 years. The festival had no chairman its first year.

Established by St. James' parishioners, the festival has grown from a quaint church festival into a community event from which profits benefit a variety of charities.

Dodson said patrons can look forward to larger brats because the festival is using a new producer.

The switch was made, he said, after some longtime patrons noticed a difference, though the brats were only slightly smaller in size.

This year, 1,200 pounds of meat will be used to produce about 4,800 quarter-pound bratwursts, Dodson said.

"Our brats are made with a secret family recipe that only two people know," Dodson said.

The brat-making procedure can be traced back to one of the original nine German-immigrant families who founded the church in 1847, and the recipe is part of protected communication with the producer of the bratwurst, he said.

But bratwursts are not the only traditional food at the festival.

Parishioners make about 1,000 pounds of German potato salad and the festival is known for its homemade desserts, including a variety of cakes and pies.

Many people use family recipes and create unique desserts for patrons, Dodson said.

Planning for the August festival begins in January when a committee of 10 core members begins planning; the committee expands to about 25 as the time of the festival approaches, said Dan Trittschuh, vice president of the church council.

The festival also includes a variety of entertainment.

Musical entertainment will include the Central Ohio Squeezebox Society, Ken and Mary Turbo Accordions Express and the Hilliard Community Band, whose performance will be dedicated to John Crumley, the band's founding director who died in April.

Children's games and activities will be provided and the Ohio Village Muffins will play the Lutheran Strikers in a game of "base ball" at 3 p.m. Aug. 4.

The game is played as it was in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Players eschew modern leather gloves and wield bats that look more like canoe paddles than pine-tarred Louisville Sluggers, while the umpire dons coattails and a cane.

The festival concludes Aug. 5 with a traditional German-language worship service led by Steven Maurer, a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Bexley.

A full schedule of events is available at stjameslutheran.us.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

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