If a good bratwurst and accordion music sound like a good time, the annual St. James Brats and Crafts Festival returns this weekend to St. James Lutheran Church, 5660 Trabue Road in Columbus.

The 36th festival is open 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4.

Parking and admission are free.

The event includes music, a craft area, an Ohio Village Muffins baseball game, a worship service in the German language and, of course, bratwursts.

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

About 5,000 bratwursts are expected to be consumed during the three-day festival, said Steve Dodson, who has served as its chairman for 35 of 36 years. The festival had no chairman its first year.

Established by St. James parishioners, the festival has expanded from a quaint church festival into a community event from which profits benefit a variety of local charities, including the Hilliard Community Assistance Council, which operates the Hilliard Food Pantry.

Entertainment this weekend will include the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Sauerkraut German Band for the first time at the festival.

"It's really a big deal for us to have them," Dodson said.

Ken Nicol, half of Ken and Mary Turbo Accordions Express and a regular performer at the festival, helped book the appearance.

Nicol, a 70-year-old Marysville resident, and his partner, Mary Drake, 57, of Dayton, have been performing for more than 20 years since meeting as solo accordion players at a festival in Indiana.

Nicol plays a button-style accordion and Drake plays a piano-style accordion.

The two discovered a significant demand and little supply for such a combination as a duo and now perform about 200 shows a year throughout the eastern United States and Canada, sometimes accompanied by Lynn Fullerton, a trumpet player from Bellefontaine, and Tom Benner, a saxophonist and clarinet player from Dayton.

Nicol and Fullerton have played at the St. James Brats and Crafts Festival for 34 years.

Nicol said the Sauerkraut German Band, a group that formed from among military members at the base in Dayton, has about 15 members.

"They dress and play the part (in traditional German costume and music)," he said.

For those interested in a watching a sporting event, the Ohio Village Muffins will play the St. James Lutheran Strikers in a game of "base ball" at 3 p.m. Aug. 3.

The game will be played with rules from the late 19th century, with players wielding bats that resemble canoe paddles and umpires dressed in coattails.

The festival concludes with a traditional German-language worship service at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 4. It will be spoken and sung in the German dialect of the church's nine founding families in 1847.



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