WAYNESVILLE — The 53rd Annual Ohio Sauerkraut Festival will be held in Waynesville Oct. 14-15.

Held from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 14 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 15, the festival serves seven tons of sauerkraut and attracts approximately 350,000 visitors each year to browse among the more than 450 craft booths and sample the offerings from more than 30 different food booths.

It continues to be one of the top quality festivals in the United States, attracting visitors and vendors from every state across the nation. Vendors come from as far as Hawaii, Florida and California to participate in the festival.

It began on Oct. 3, 1970 with 528 pounds of sauerkraut being served to around 1,500 visitors.

The Waynesville Retail Merchants were planning to hold a sidewalk sale and it was suggested that a sauerkraut dinner be served as part of the event. With this decision, the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival was born.

Entertainment included an antique car parade. German bands and folk dancers, checkers and spelling bee contests, and of course, prizes for the largest head of cabbage and the best homemade sauerkraut. Booths were set up on Main Street to sell kraut-containing foods (including sauerkraut ice cream), fall harvest, produce, and display the antiques, arts, and crafts of a few vendors.

Word of the high-quality food, entertainment, and crafts spread quickly and the festival attracted crowds of approximately 4,000 in 1971 and 10,000 in 1972. The size of the Sauerkraut Festival brought it under the management of the Waynesville Area Chamber of Commerce and it continued to attract even-larger numbers of visitors, surpassing 40,000 in 1976. In the early 1980s the number of arts and crafts booths steadily increased, and the number of festival goers increased to an estimated 100,000 in 1982.

Shuttle bus parking is provided by the Athletic Boosters at Waynesville High School, 735 Dayton Road. Follow shuttle parking signs. Private parking is available at various locations surrounding the festival but is not operated by, sanctioned, or recommended by the Waynesville Area Chamber of Commerce of the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival. Parking at these locations is at your own risk.