The 47th annual Germanfest returns this weekend to Sacred Heart Church in Lombard.
"It's a great time to meet new people, to visit with old friends and just really enjoy some good entertainment, German food and beer," said John Brill, co-general chairman for Germanfest.
The festival -- which features live bands, games, raffles, carnival rides and Bavarian food and drinks -- started as a family picnic for the parish.
Now, between 30,000 and 50,000 people from throughout the Chicago area attend each year. Brill believes two of the main draws are the family friendly atmosphere and the headlining bands, which this year include 16 Candles, 7th Heaven and High Infidelity.
Admission is free to the festival, which runs from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday; 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday; 1 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Activities will be set up in the church's parking lot at 114 S. Elizabeth St., just one block west of the downtown Lombard Metra station.
"We like to get people to know what downtown Lombard is, what Lombard brings to other communities and what we have to offer," Brill said, adding that most of the attendees are non-parishoners.
Most of the food is made in-house, including bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato salad, hot pretzels, strudel and non-German fare such as pulled pork sliders, pork tenderloin and chicken on a stick, Brill said. On Thursday, just about everything but bratwursts will be priced for only $1.
Guests can play Bingo for $1 a card, per game, in the air-conditioned parish center Friday through Sunday. A free kids Bingo with prizes and two bike raffles also is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
A casino with a $5 admission fee will be open from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and a $20 per team bags tournament will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday.
For $55, attendees can purchase carnival mega-passes that give them access to the rides during all four days of the festival; $20 passes offer one day of unlimited rides from either 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday or 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday.
To conclude the event, a $5,000 grand prize drawing will take place at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Two weeks later, Brill said, planning will begin for next year's festival.