Oktoberfest celebrates 40th year

“Oktoberfest ist Wunderbar!” said mayor of Waterloo Brenda Halloran, causing the crowd to cheer at the kick-off of the mayor’s Oktoberfest luncheon, held in Uptown Waterloo’s public square on Thursday, Oct. 8.

The town square quickly filled up with residents and tourists of all ages. Halloran commented, “By the looks of it this is our largest crowd ever.”

Paul Buttinger, the president of Oktoberfest, proclaimed that although the event had not yet started, the spirit was already in KW.

“Tomorrow will be the official opening of the festival, but … [it] feels like we are starting it right now with a little sausage and schnitzel,” said Buttinger.

Pillars, a sponsor of Oktoberfest, provided free sausages, which were served by the city’s councilors, along with schnitzel and drinks. Rude Native also provided a chocolate dessert.

The attendees were informed of the many activities that would be held over the next nine days. Buttinger recommended the Take the Bus on Us program, saying, “Not only does Oktoberfest care about getting people out to the festivals, we care about getting them home too.”

This program, provided by Grand River Transit (GRT), encourages the public to take the bus by offering free transportation on the weekends of the festival.

The official master of ceremonies for Oktoberfest, Angie Hill from Kool FM, reminded the crowd of the 50 plus charities that the festival and its many sponsors support.

The Black Forest Band, who proudly presented themselves as Canada’s Premier Polka Band, started and finished the ceremony with traditional polka music.

Always a favourite at Oktoberfest, the band included Mark Krueller, former president of the festival, as their drummer.

“Ladies and gentleman, the clock is ticking, the tent is set, and I got to tell you, the beer is chilling, because we are getting ready to deliver Canada’s greatest Bavarian festival right here in Kitchener-Waterloo,” said Buttinger, motivating the crowd to begin their celebrations.