Get Your German On

9/15/2017 - John Gulig

Oktoberfest Kenosha Wisconsin
Oktoberfest Kenosha Wisconsin

So what is Oktoberfest all about? Let this Proud German give you the low-down on this high-energy celebration!

Oktoberfest, or “Germanfest” as some refer to it, is now a celebration of the fall harvest with singing, dancing, eating, and drinking. The tradition goes something like this… 1810 the first “event” was held to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese. Citizens of Munich, Germany were invited to join in the five days of festivities. Anniversary celebrations were held annually and became larger over the years. An agricultural show was added during the second year, along with other attractions and entertainment as the years went on. When Munich allowed beer on the fairgrounds, makeshift beer stands, like the beer tents of Americanized Oktoberfest events of modern times, were sponsored by the local breweries. The festival was eventually extended in number of days and bumped up to September to allow for better weather conditions for the party. Today, the last day of the festival is the first Sunday in October.

Oktoberfest in Kenosha began about 12 years ago at Kemper Center with the late Art Buchanan as the event organizer. Central to the event is music - the Dorf Kapelle band from the Appleton area has played at every event at Kemper since its inception. The band is composed of mainly music teachers from that area and they play some of the best German music you will ever hear, in the true German brass band style. Lots of Oompah! They even add some big band era music along the way, with a couple modern arrangements to give everyone in the crowd something to enjoy.

Food and Beer are the other key components of a successful Oktoberfest event. Bratwurst, Knockwurst, German Potato Salad, Sauerkraut, Pretzels, and of course, plenty of beer are all available for purchase. I have been to all but one of the Oktoberfest celebrations at Kemper. The one I missed was a year when It poured rain. The event has grown so much over the years that it is now to the point that it outgrew the Kemper Center grounds and tents! This year the event has moved indoors to nearby Marina Shores for a larger show place and shelter from any weather woes – I won’t be missing any events ever again with this news! Kemper Center's Oktoberfest takes place September 30.

Other Oktoberfest events in our area include the House of Gerhard Oktoberfest this weekend, September 15 - 17. House of Gerhard is a great German restaurant with three generations of German ancestry having run the business. They started their Oktoberfest celebration a few years ago as a way to share their heritage with the community. The event is hosted in their outdoor Biergarten at the restaurant under a large tent.  An Oompah band, delicious food, and… you guessed it… BEER are all on hand! The Rudin Family, owners of the restaurant, and their staff are always dressed to the nines in their finest German apparel.

New this year is the Petrifying Springs Biergarten Oktoberfest, September 22 - 24! With live music on Saturday, stein holding contests, 8 German beers, and plenty of fun, this is probably the most family-friendly venue to celebrate Oktoberfest. The park offers plenty of space for the whole family to enjoy a large pretzel and a day together celebrating fall.

So, before you are turned loose to celebrate Oktoberfest here in the Kenosha Area, I have to give you a few helpful tips for “Speaking Oktoberfest”!

Dirndl – the traditional German dress that you will see the lovely ladies wearing.

Lederhosen – meaning leather pants, the trousers the gentlemen folk wear.

Bier – BEER

Noch ein Bier, bitte! – Another Beer, Please!

Prost! – Cheers!

Wurst – Sausage

Guten Appetite – “Bon Appetite” or Happy Eating!

Festmeister – Festival Master

Now get out there, get ready to dance and celebrate the season! Get your German on! Prost!

John Gulig Visit kenosha

John Gulig

Travel Information Specialist

Nature lover. Turkey, Deer, and general hunter. Proud grandpa who enjoys family time. Travel and navigation expert. Working in tourism for over 20 years.