of the oldest Oktoberfests in the area, the Oktoberfest
at Old Heidelberg Park runs for four weekends from Sept.
9 to Oct. 1. It draws about 50,000 people in Glendale.
The unofficial two-month start of Oktoberfest season shouts
the question: Why are they so popular?
almost a dozen festivals in the Milwaukee area alone, those
behind the scenes used one word: gemŸtlichkeit. The German
word conveys a lot, but it’s basically a feeling of good
cheer. How does that translate into Oktoberfest?
have a really good
time and it brings a sense of community,” said
Joanna Adamicki, social events coordinator for Waukesha
Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, which is putting on
its first Oktoberfest next month.
is the one festival where I see people from town,” said BJ
Homayouni, executive director for Festivals of Cedarburg Inc.,
which also has Strawberry Festival, Wine & Harvest
Festival and Winter Festival. “I see a lot more locals
there’s a second word? Beer. A third would be food. A fourth
word would be heritage, a fifth music and a sixth family. But
we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
beer and food. I think that’s what draws it. There are a lot
of different beers associated with it. There are a lot of
German beers, along with the unique food they have,”
things like wienerschnitzel. We bring in an authentic German
cook who makes our food for us. We have a German sausage
platter, sauerbraten, and more,” Homayouni said of the
festival that actually takes place in October and is in its
ninth year. “We usually get close to selling out our
Ehlke/Conley News Service
wooden dance floor and two stages providing continuous
live music are part of West Bend Germanfest. The 31st
annual event runs through Sunday.
annual West Bend Germanfest, which starts its four-day run
today, has a variety of vendors selling traditional food like
spahnferkel (roast pig) as well as an array of desserts.
cellar and beer garden have been spruced up and expanded,
according to Steve Tennies, the fest’s project manager.
authentic German food are key draws at Oktoberfest at Old
Heidelberg Park in Glendale, said Laura Krauser, sales and
marketing director for the Bavarian Bierhaus. There’s a
wider selection of food in the Bierhaus, she added.
serve about 6,000 to 7,000 people a day,” said Kraus of the
festival that runs four Fridays and Saturdays starting Sept. 9
through Oct. 1. That’s about 50,000 people in eight days.
Milwaukee Lions Club goes with its own food in the parking lot
of Kegel’s Inn, 5901 W. National Ave., West Allis, but
people also go into the German restaurant. The club’s fourth
annual Oktoberfest is Saturday and Sunday.
we serve HofbrŠuhaus beer and Miller, sausages including
landjaeger, and on Saturday they can go inside to Kegel’s,
which doesn’t serve food during the day on Sunday,” said
Bill Elliott, treasurer of the West Milwaukee Lions Club.
drawing up to only 250 people, he looks forward to some
growth, having moved the festival from September and away from
football games and iffy weather to August.
smaller and more intimate. It’s in an area of Milwaukee that
hasn’t had a Germanfest in quite some time,” Elliott said.
inaugural Oktoberfest will include the 5K Wurst Beer Biathlon
in which people have a beer and bratwurst at the half-way
mark. “That’s why it’s a biathlon, it’s eating and
running,” Adamicki said.
hard to express why the festivals are on the rise locally.
After all, Oktoberfest dates back to Oct. 12, 1810 when
Bavarian crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese and the
residents of Munich were invited to festivities held on fields
in front of the city gates.
we aren’t still celebrating the wedding. In the following
years in Munich, it quickly blossomed to celebrate agriculture
and grew to the 16-day festival of today.
Oktoberfest, Oct. 13-Oct. 16, has grown in attendance and will
move from downtown to Veterans Park on the lakefront for its
seventh annual event. It will provide more room for “fun,
music, beer and people.”
cited the strong German culture in Washington County and the
rest of the region.
used to be an old German city,” Tennies said. “And you
have the strong beer culture and beer-making as well.”
beer again, which could explain contests such as pounding a
nail into a block of wood or holding a stein at arm’s
length. But with the growth of microbreweries, people have
been seeing beer in a new light.
fun, the West Milwaukee Lions Club Oktoberfest also
benefits the community.
said Oktoberfests at Heidelberg Park date back to the 1940s.
And what’s old is new again has a reason for the popularity
an environment that’s very inviting. You’re very
comfortable with family and friends. It’s not divided by
age,” she said.
Bend, Germanfest is bringing back the Kinder Zone and
re-emphasizing family activities, including nagelschlagen
(nail pounding), although Tennies said there is still much to
particular has been popular and among the perennial favorites
has been The Polka Family, which returns this year, Tennies
bands have been a standard at the Oktoberfest in Old
Heidelberg Park, Krauser said. But this year the rides and
games are getting a bit of a makeover to entice children of
bands, a lot of families - it’s a great atmosphere,” said
Elliott of the West Milwaukee Lion’s Club Oktoberfest.
be the first to admit that I love going to Oktoberfest and I
was there at German Fest in Milwaukee. It’s always a great
time,” he said.
Elliott said a reason for the festival’s existence is all
proceeds go to the West Milwaukee Lion’s Club.
past, the club has spent money in the community, funding
scholarships and health needs, and a variety of charitable
work,” he said.
the club spent a lot of volunteer hours at the Bradley Center
and the former US Cellular Center for the charities there,
while the shift re-emphasizes West Allis and West Milwaukee
causes, he added.
the West Bend Germanfest will build a home for Habitat for
Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties, Tennies said. And
with the new emphasis is renewed volunteerism and sponsorship,
said the West Bend Germanfest talked about folding, but with
the new vigor, notably with Habitat’s participation, the
festival instead added a fourth day this year.
get-go, Adamicki said the Waukesha’s Park, Recreation and
Forestry Department is teaming up with the Waukesha Kiwanis
Early Risers and the Waukesha Rotary Club as well as the
Waukesha Citizens Police Academy. The volunteers will sell
food and beer and help out in other ways.
have been extremely helpful, from ordering the tents to hiring
the bands,” she said.
into a community event is key, Tennies said.
we’ll be around another 30 years,” he said of West Bend
attendees will drink to that.