What exactly is Oktoberfest and how did it get started? Oktoberfest is a 16–18 day beer festival held annually in Munich, Bavaria Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October.
The tradition started two hundred years ago to celebrate the October marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese. The crown prince wanted all the citizens to join in the celebration so he held the celebration in a field in front of the Munich city gates.
Here at Spruce Creek we celebrate Oktoberfest with a wonderful evening of German food, German beer and dancing the evening away with the sounds of polka music sponsored by our wonderful German-American Club.
Many partygoers showed up in traditional German costume. The ladies in dirndls and flowered headbands, the men in lederhosen as well as others who had t-shirts with imprinted lederhosen designs. I was very fortunate to have a friend, Emilie Schmidt, let me borrow her beautiful red dirndl for the evening. I felt very festive indeed!
A bottle of Funf 5 German Riesling wine was at the center of each table that was sweet, light, refreshing and really very good. The evening started as soon as everyone’s beer glass or stein was full with Warsteiner beer and then wonderfully warm pretzels were brought to each table while dinner was being prepared.
The food was catered by Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café and was outstanding. Not only was the food wonderful but also there was plenty for seconds and some took doggie bags home.
We were treated to a sit down dinner of Sauerbraten (marinated beef roast in rich brown sauce made with red wine and ginger snaps), Jaeger Schnitzel (chicken breast with sautéed onions and mushrooms with red sauce), sweet red cabbage, spatzle (a homemade egg noodle) and German chocolate cake. All of it was yummy!
The beef and chicken was so tender it was easily cut with our plastic utensils. I usually do not like cooked cabbage but this was sweet, tender and wonderfully tasty. The spatzle was a little different; I found the consistency of the noodle interesting. I am used to eating the flatter egg noodles and will have to develop a taste for the spatzle.
The Alpine Express provided a wonderful evening of musical entertainment. They played many, many polkas as well as other dance favorites that kept the dance floor full throughout the evening.
The band was amazing and very talented. They entertained us with music using cowbells; a singing saw and played the alphorn. The Alphorn reached from atop the stage down to the dance floor and was a beautifully decorated instrument.
Periodically during the evening at the band’s direction everyone would raise their glasses and sing out the cheer,”Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi”. Loosely translated the toast is one’s health or well-being.
I walked around quite a bit during the evening and ran into a very delightful couple Marilyn and Jim Straz. Marilyn told me that she and her sister Judy Warset, who came from Oslo, Norway, traveled from the Chicago area to visit their sister Spruce Creek resident Janice Stehura.
I asked how they were enjoying the evening. Marilyn said, “It’s fabulous”. Jim said, “My fantasy was always to go to Munich, Germany to celebrate the real Oktoberfest but this is good, very, very good”.
As the evening was ending Judy stopped by and said, “We came all this way just to attend the Oktoberfest celebration and visit my sister. We had a great time”.
I talked a bit to restaurant representative, Nathan Ellison and asked what he thought of the evening. “It’s fabulous. When people come to have a good time they have a good time. That’s kinda what’s happening here. It makes my job easy. All I have to do is provide the food. They are all family recipes. This was the easiest catering we have ever done. I’m just glad you guys invited us”.
Oktoberfest was truly a very enjoyable evening for everyone!
Portions of this post appeard in my weekly column in the Daily Sun newspaper.