CUYAHOGA FALLS -- The city's annual observance of Oktoberfest will take place a little early this year.

Due to the construction underway this year to open Front Street to traffic, festival planners needed to move up the date of Oktoberfest to earlier in the summer. Organizers are planning Sommerfest, a summer version of the traditional Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest which was founded in 1979.

Sommerfest will take place July 7 from 5-11 p.m, July 8 from noon-11 p.m., and July 9 from 12:30-8 p.m. at Falls River Square.

"We are the oldest/longest running festival on Front Street," according to Oktoberfest spokesperson Jessica Brandy. "To keep with the German theme, we have re-named it Sommerfest (the traditional German spelling) and it is presented by the Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest Committee."

Sommerfest will take place at the south end of the Front Street mall only this year (again, due to construction). There will be craft and retail vendors inside the pavilion building, the splash pad will be open, and there will be keg rolling races, beer stein races and hammerschlagen for some extra German fun.

Committee chairman Billy Harding said Sommerfest will be a hybrid fall-and-summer festival. "We're still staying with the German theme," he said. "We're still going to have beer barrel races, beer stein races and German music, and we're adding barbecued food and fresh-squeezed lemonade."

"A few food vendors that will be celebrating with us and serving up traditional German food are Fresch Catering from Cuyahoga Falls, Schmidt's Sausage Haus from Columbus and Schnitzels & Giggles from San Antonio, Texas," Brandy said. In addition, Stoddard's Frozen Custard from Kent, Rimedio's Bakery & Concessions and A Taste of New Orleans are a few of the other vendors that will be on hand all weekend to cure summer cravings, she said.

Harding said Schmidt's is new this year and Schnitzels & Giggles is back after a two-year hiatus. "It's going to be a summer theme with an Oktoberfest flair," he added.

Yuengling and Spaten will be on draft for the German beer drinkers and there will also be wine and a few flavors of the Bud Light 'Ritas to satisfy the summer taste.

The major sponsors of Sommerfest are Yuengling, Western Reserve Hospital, Jimmy Bigg's Grille, and Metro (Akron Metro), Brandy said.

Harding said the Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest is a non-profit and a portion of proceeds go toward local charities and scholarships.

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