Volksfest brings German tradition to Dunlap

By Alyssa Donovan

July 7, 2013 Updated Jul 8, 2013 at 9:25 AM CDT

DUNLAP, Ill. --The word Volksfest means "People's Fest" in German. On Sunday, the Peoria German American society's annual Volksfest brought hundreds to Hickory Grove Park in Dunlap.

Chairman of the festival Al Smith says you don't have to be German to be part of the festivities.

"Like I say just two things, you like to drink beer and have fun. Food's good, beer's great. Ice cold beer and good food. Bring the kids this thing is very family oriented festival," said Smith.

The festival is so family oriented that many of the people working it are descendants of those who founded the society back in the 1930's.

Mary Dempster is one of those descendants.

"It's our heritage it's our culture. I grew up with it and it's near and dear to my heart. We like to bring a little bit of Germany to the Peoria community," said Dempster.

Dempster says the potato salad and sauerkraut are her mother's traditional recipes and food is a big part of the culture.

Perry Johnson is a loyal Volksfest-goer. He says the festival is worth dusting off your best glassware.

"It's kind of German in a way," said Johnson. "It combines practically with drinking. You can't go wrong with that. This is just so much fun. It's great to come out here and the park is just wonderful and I'm just enjoying the fine weather with all the Germans and enjoying a cold beer. It’s just hard to beat on a Sunday afternoon. "