Oktoberfest celebrates its 45th

Community members celebrate at Oktoberfest opening ceremonies
Community members celebrate at Oktoberfest opening ceremonies

Kitchener-Waterloo will soon have plenty to celebrate as the much-anticipated Oktoberfest festivities .return for 2013.

The nine-day internationally-recognized festival of German heritage draws huge crowds each year and has made K-W an epicentre for polka and beer-loving folk. Now celebrating it’s 45th anniversary, the celebration has united both residents and non-residents of the Kitchener-Waterloo community.

In an interview with The Cord, executive director of Oktoberfest, Dave MacNeil, explained  his team’s initiative to improve the festival.

“What we’ve really done this year is stepped back and said ‘let’s do everything we do a little bit better,’” he said. “Put a little more production value into it.’”

Prior to the outbreak of the Frist World War, Kitchener was called Berlin, reflecting its German population and heritage.

“So we have a strong history of German clubs celebrating this and it’s expanded over the years to accommodate the whole community now,” explained Waterloo’s ward 5 councillor, Mark Whaley.

Waterloo’s opening ceremony will take place this Thursday, offering a free lunch running from 10:00 a.m. until  1:00 p.m. at Waterloo Public Square. Waterloo Mayor, Brenda Halloran, will be on hand to inaugurate the 45th incarnation of the celebration.

Kitchener’s ceremonies will be held the next day at Kitchener Civic Square. Beginning at 11:30 a.m, the square will host music and festivities.  President of Oktoberfest Harry Vogt, along with Miss Oktoberfest, Tara Hebblethwaite, and Oktoberfest mascot Onkel Hans will also be present for the keg tapping that officially starts the celebrations.

“It’s going to include 700,000 people. And of course the most popular event is the parade,” said Whaley.

“The parade is on Thanksgiving Day and hundreds of thousands of people come out and watch it. There’s cultural events, there’s of course lots of action in the clubs bars.”

He continued, “And it’s really a great way for students to come out and appreciate some of the things that we enjoy in Waterloo, which is partying.”

With 16 fest halls across the twin cities and many other events running throughout the week there is no shortage of sights and sounds to take in. Heidelberg Haus in Waterloo, better known as Moses Springer Arena, will be hosting a student night on Thursday, Oct.17.

Altes Muenchen Haus, Queensmount Arena, will be playing traditional polka-tunes, as  Walter Ostanek will perform on the accordion. On Sunday,Oct. 13 Hamilton-based music group Monster Truck will share the stage with Ostanek for ‘Rocktoberfest.’

Each Friday and Saturday Grand River Transit will be running buses free of charge from the fest halls. A comprehensive list of routes and times can be found on the Oktoberfest website.

Whether it’s the opening ceremonies, the pancake breakfast, or the fest halls that draw attention, Oktoberfest appears again this year to be a great opportunity to engage with the community.

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