Roll Out The Barrel

It’s that time of year again…Oktoberfest is here again…

Source: Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest

Yes, meine kleine Jungen und Mädchen, Oktoberfest is coming back to Kitchener-Waterloo.  So dust off your lederhosen and your beer steins and get yourself ready for North America’s largest Bavarian festival…second only to the original Oktoberfest in Germany.

Many people know of the background of the original Oktoberfest – it came to be through festivities to celebrate the marriage of then Crown Prince (the future King) Ludwig to Princess Therese Von Sachesen-Hildenburghausen.  The five-day wedding party culminated with horse races on October 17, 1810.  The races, along with an agricultural fair and the partaking of beer and food in large tents began to occur annually to celebrate the anniversary.  The modern Munich version now has a fair and has stretched to two weeks of drinking, food and fun, ending on the first Sunday in October.

This is not Princess Therese...this is Katinka Ingabogovinanana. Her name is not quite, but almost the same length as that of Therese. I think Katinka would have enjoyed Oktoberfest. Especially with her bodyguards. (Source: Google image search)

Fast forward a couple of years (okay…a few more than a couple) and many Germans began to immigrate to Canada, choosing to settle in southern Ontario in a little town called Berlin (fitting, I know).  Soon, the town became a city and eventually changed its name to Kitchener, and the German Canadians in the city decided to hold a civic festival to celebrate the German community and its heritage and culture.  The first official Oktoberfest was celebrated in 1969 at the Concordia Club in Kitchener (even though the club had initially celebrated the festival in 1967).  The festival is now nine days long, spreads throughout 15 Festhallen throughout the region, and includes all kinds of other activities.  A Thanksgiving Parade, a fashion show, barrel races, luncheons, the Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball, Rocktoberfest, a treasure hunt, a food drive, and loads of other exciting things to keep you busy and distracted while the cold weather starts to flow into the area.

Now, I for one, am not a big drinker.  So the draw of Oktoberfest for me is the gathering of friends and family, food, fun and just the experience.  I’ve been to several Festhallen, met some great people, enjoyed some amazing German treats and had an all-around good time.

Some things I’ve learned from my time experiencing Oktoberfest:

  1. You can modify the word Oktoberfest to suit your descriptive needs anyhow you’d like:  dogtoberfest, rocktoberfest, okthrowberfest, funtoberfest.  Oh yeah, the options are limitless.
  2. You too can speak German!  All you need to remember when at Oktoberfest is the following…

    Eins, Zwei, Drei, gesoffe (said with beer stein or glass in hand)

    Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit
    Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit
    Eins, zwei, Drei gesoffe!
    Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
    Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
    Generally, this means you are going to toast to drinking and be happy and comfortable about it, and you should count 1, 2, 3 drink!  And then you should get excited and shout “Hoi hoi hoi” in response to “Zicke zacke zicke zacke”.  Right on…a drunkard’s call to arms!

    The Concordia Club in 2007...don't bring your drinks on the dancefloor. Or else you end up with #6...

  3. Traditional German dancing involves a lot of whips and spinning your partner in circles.
  4. Traditional German clothing resembles medieval fetish wear…a lot.  That explains the whips I guess.
  5. You can tell how long a person has been going to Oktoberfest in K-W by the number of pins on their hat.

    You can tell that Ian hasn't had the good fortune of spending as much money on pins and buttons as I have.

  6. It is sometimes important to wear rain boots to Oktoberfest depending on the night.  University nights are an example of this…you will be sloshing through an inch deep pool of alcohol by the end of the night.
  7. Walter Ostanek, Canada’s Polka King makes one of his only two yearly concert appearances at the K-W Oktoberfest every year.  I’ve seen him.  He knows how to polka.  Seriously.

If you don’t have the opportunity to get to Germany and you happen to be in North America during the first couple of weeks of October, a trip to the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is a whole lot of fun.  Sure, there are no fair rides or horse races, but you can still get your polka on.  And your lederhosen.



4 thoughts on “Roll Out The Barrel

  1. Oh, where to start? LOVE the hats! I’m impressed that you have a font that allows umlauts. Item 6 reminds me of a little place that used to be called the ‘Vous. This was a great post. I almost want to put on some lederhosen. Almost.

    • Depending on whether or not we attend any events this year, might have some more pictures with more pins on the hats. 😉 And no matter how much I love Oktoberfest, I never want to put on some lederhosen.

  2. My parents took my to Oktoberfest in K/W a couple times when I was a kid. I don’t remember much about except for the big tents with all the tables for drinking. That was also in the movie Strange Brew so maybe that’s why it’s the only thing I can remember.

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