Sommerfest, wedding share weekend priorities

Herald Staff Writer

You’ll have to excuse Darrin Buchta if he’s late to his wedding rehearsal.

You see, there’s another event Friday — the 51st annual Haysville Sommerfest — he just can’t pass up.

Darrin Buchta and Kayla Kleinhelter, who plan to marry Saturday in Haysville, will incorporate this weekend's Sommerfest festivities into their celebration.

“You better believe it,” said Buchta, a 24-year-old paramedic at Air Evac. “I fully intend on being down there at 5 o’clock when the food line opens.”

Buchta and Kayla Kleinhelter, a 24-year-old respiratory therapist at Memorial Hospital in Jasper, will marry Saturday at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Haysville.

After the rehearsal Friday night, most of the wedding party will head to Haysville Park to enjoy Sommerfest, a community fundraiser featuring food, music and games. Some, like Buchta, may stop off before the rehearsal to grab a barbecue pork chop or fried chicken.

When they picked the date, the couple didn’t realize it was the same weekend as Sommerfest.

Buchta grew up in Haysville and tries to go to the festival every year.

So why not get married at Sommerfest?

“I tried to get her to go that route,” Buchta said. “I told her it’d be cheaper. We could get married in the food line, but she wasn’t having it.”

The Haysville Ruritan Club organizes the festival, which also runs Saturday. The event raises several thousand dollars each year.

Admission is free, so revenue comes from raffle tickets and food sales. The money helps pay for the community’s streetlights, park upkeep and an annual high school scholarship, among other local causes, said Marvin Eisenhut, club treasurer.

Sommerfest began as a picnic at the now-defunct Haysville School. When it outgrew that venue, the festival moved to Haysville Park off U.S. 231.

Each year, attendance seems to grow. Last year, when organizers ran out of fried chicken and pork chops, those who were still hungry had to choose between burgers or brats.

“You can’t turn the people away,” Eisenhut said, “so you keep cooking.”

Most years, fried chicken is the biggest draw. Each chicken is marinated in a secret sauce.

“We really go the extra mile,” club president Charla Grieves said. “We don’t just throw it together.”

Don Vonderheide will be in charge of the fried chicken stand.

“We could take shortcuts in order to save money,” he said. “But as a club, we have voted to stay the same. Our costs keep going up, but the chickens taste the same.”

“If you come,” Grieves said, “bring an appetite.”

Sommerfest schedule

5 p.m. Food line opens; kid games begin
6 p.m. Kiddie and adult tractor pull
7 p.m. WBDC cornhole tournament
7:30 p.m. The band No Plan B performs

8 a.m. Wiffleball tournament
4 p.m. Food line opens
5 p.m. Kids games; Full Out Tumble and Cheer performance
5:30 p.m. Park Board cornhole tournament
7:30 p.m. The band Eighty-Sixt performs
10 p.m. Raffle drawing

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