You don’t need to be of Austrian descent or a polka aficionado to enjoy yourself at Spass Nacht, the annual Austrian Festival returning to Fraze Pavilion in Kettering at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“This is an event for everybody,” co-chair Andrew Rathweg said. “You don’t have to know how to polka dance to come out and have fun.”
A good time is implicit in the name. Spass Nacht, which started in Kettering in 1978, is German for “Fun Night.” The family-friendly event honoring Kettering’s sister city Steyr, Austria, features music and dancing, children’s activities and plenty of food. Cincinnati-based Euro-American party band Prost performs at 6 p.m.
“We’re excited to have Prost back for the first time in about five years,” Rathweg said. “They’re regulars at the Hofbräuhaus in Newport. They do many new and old German and Bavarian songs but it’s not all that type of music. They do a great job of reading the crowd and mixing in pop, rock, country, swing and other varieties of Ethnic music, which really makes a party atmosphere.”
Like the live music, the food is always a big draw.
“My wife is the chairman of the food booth and it’s all volunteers,” Rathweg said. “We start at noon getting the food cooked. The grills get turned on about 4 o’clock so we make sure we don’t get behind. When the whole event is only four hours you’ve got to make sure you’re on it from the start.
“The potato salad is awesome and brats and metts on the grill are always good,” Rathweg added. “This year Kettering Hospital is donating quite a bit of desserts and that’s the first time they’ve done that for us.”
Spass Nacht is the principal fundraiser for the Kettering Sister City student exchange with Steyr, which started in 1977. The first Sister City relationship in North America was between Toledo, Ohio and Toledo, Spain in 1931. The official American Sister Cities program began in 1956. Kettering, which has two sister city affiliations, formed its Sister City Committee in 1967. The relationships with Steyr and the Borough of Kettering, England were established in 1970 and 1978 respectively.
“The funds from this obviously go back into the organization but it funds the youth exchange with the sister cities,” Rathweg said. “It’s affiliated with the City of Kettering, but kids don’t have to be from Kettering to participate. Our mission is to build people-to-people relationships, based on youth and adult exchange visits, and social and cultural gatherings.”
HOW TO GO
What: Spass Nacht Austrian Festival
Where: Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering
When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday
More info: (937) 296-3300 or www.fraze.com.