German Fests in America
German fests - with their beer, parades, music and dances are often viewed as the epitome of Germanness, although these Bavarian festivals make up just a small part of the rich German tradition - and German youths today are as much indulging in fast-food and hard rock as youngsters around the world.
But once a year - during the October Festival in Munich - the traditional German soul bursts forth and we become the Dirndl and Lederhosen wearers and Bratwurst munchers that the world knows and loves.
Is there any way you can have the same in the States? Can you have the beer and the music right in front of your doorstep? Want to know places where tens of thousands of bratwurst, sauerkraut and pieces of German pastry are munched away in the course of a couple of days? Then enjoy our articles below!
German Fest Milwaukee Lakefront
Naughty - Now I all dressed up and he falls asleep! Children at the Traditional Procession at the Oktoberfest Munich (© © picture-alliance/dpa) Thousands converge on the Milwaukee shore of Lake Michigan in July every year for the kick-off of the largest German Fest in the United States.
Wisconsin, along with Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska, comprise an area of the Midwest with the highest concentration of German ancestry in the country. In these states, as many as one half of all people claim German heritage. But the visitors who flock to Milwaukee in celebration of German culture are not necessarily German-Americans in search of their roots. Visitors of all stripes come to enjoy a unique mix of food, drink and fun.
After days filled with beer, parades, music and dances, and activities for children, each evening ends with a fireworks display with Lake Michigan as its backdrop.
Authentic German foods such as Bratwurst, Strudel and Sauerkraut are prepared fresh each day, with over 20,000 bratwursts and 10,000 pounds of potatoes and sauerkraut to be consumed over the course of the three-day festival. A wine-tasting offers the best in imported German wines, while 35,000 pieces of pastry from Torten to Strudel fulfill the German tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake).
The festival presents the largest selection of German goods outside of Germany, including fabulous displays of imported German gifts and one-of-a-kind collectibles in a European market setting.
German Fest Milwaukee
American Oktoberfest: Cincinnati, Ohio
According to a 2000 census, more than four in 10 Ohioans claim German ancestry. But go to Cincinnati, known to the German-American community as Zincinnati, and the proportion rises to one half.
What began in 1788 with the arrival of Major Benjamin Steitz (Stites) and Matthias Denmann and continued with the Danube Swabian immigration of the 1950's, flourishes today as a vibrant pride in German-American heritage. Cincinnati boasts more than 20 German-American societies, a bilingual school, a German language newspaper, a sprawling May festival, and the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich, Cincinnati’s sister city.
The "elbow" formed by the Miami and Erie Canal, nicknamed the "Rhine", now forms the Central Parkway, the spine of the city that splits the city in half. The area known today as "over-the-Rhine" was once the German district.
Of all the buildings in Over-the-Rhine, the one that expresses the German-American love for culture and learning and the arts is the Germania building, with a statue of a women who embodies Germany, with books, a globe, and a palette at her feet. During the Anti-German sentiment of World War I, she was renamed "Columbia" and draped with a black cape.
But the most impressive embodiment of German culture in Cincinnati, is by far, its annual Oktoberfest, where 80,500 bratwurst, 64,000 sauerkraut balls, 56,000 sausages, and 24,000 potato pancakes are consumed each year.
Oktoberfest - Plenty of Gemütlichkeit in Fredricksburg, Texas
The sound of oompah, the aroma of sizzling bratwurst, and the cries of Gemütlichkeit herald the annual Oktoberfest in Fredricksburg, Texas. For full three days, the whole world is invited to sing and dance at one of Fredricksburg's favorite festivals. The focus is the German Favorites of oompah, polka, waltzing, with exhibitions, contests and plenty of opportunities for dancing - including the irresistible "Chicken Dance".
Oktoberfest also attracts many visitors for shopping opportunites. Over 45 juried artisans from across the state are offering their best arts and collectibles. Hill Country artists are selling their fine arts to the public in a rare showing of unique handmade gift items.
Of course, lets not forget the hearty menu - which in Fredricksburg is a delicious blend of German and Mexican-American foods. Vendors are sizzling up fajitas, tacos, burgers, as well as sausages on a stick and plates with kraut and other scrumptious goodies. Adventurous tasters can sample over 30 verieties of domestic and imported beers.
Oktoberfest ist great fun for youngsters aswell, kids can play to their heart's content on a Rock Climbing Wall, a Super Slide, a Jumping Castle and other fun games.