Oktoberfest draws large crowd

Photo by Heather Davidson
Photo by Heather Davidson

From Oct. 10-18, citizens of Kitchener-Waterloo gathered together to celebrate the worldwide festivities of Oktoberfest. Individuals from the local community and around Ontario travelled to experience the celebration of German culture in the community.

The total number of Oktoberfest events this year was 49, ranging from the parade to different night events, sporting events, cultural events and more.

All proceeds from Oktoberfest go toward not-for-profit groups.

This year, a couple of new initiatives were introduced into the festival.

Molson Canadian and Rickard’s collaborated to create a new beer for the festival called Lederhosen, a German-style beer that was introduced and then eventually launched across Canada.

Oktoberfest also launched a new program called Oktoberlicious, which allowed the festival to partner with a variety of restaurants that have a German-styled menu, as well as Molson Canadian products.

“That was very well received. That went on from September 27 to October 19,” said Dave MacNeil, Oktoberfest’s executive director.

A foosball tournament was also introduced in uptown Waterloo on the first Saturday, which was also very popular among attendees.

The festival originated in Munich, Germany, where it lasts 16 days and runs from late September to the first weekend in October.

By 1960, Oktoberfest had become a worldwide phenomenon, allowing ordinary individuals to commemorate German culture through various parades, drinking German beer, eating German food, listening to music and other activities.

Oktoberfest was initially established in K-W in 1969 with the objective to celebrate the Bavarian culture and festival tradition.

Since then, K-W Oktoberfest has created new individual traditions, and has become the largest Oktoberfest festival in North America, with the biggest Thanksgiving Parade in Canada.

Opening ceremonies in K-W took place on the morning of Oct. 10, with trumpets sounding prior and then the tapping of the keg.

MacNeil noted how the pleasant weather allowed attendees to be able to participate wholeheartedly in the festivities, along with the other family and cultural events that were occurring Thanksgiving weekend.

“Overall the week was great … it was a very successful and very safe festival,” MacNeil said.

He also noted that over the course of the week there were no reported DUI charges from police. He had not yet checked in with the police regarding the occurrences over the weekend, however he is hopeful that no charges have been laid.

Initially, MacNeil was unsure how the newly implemented fall reading week at Wilfrid Laurier University would affect student attendance at the festival. However, MacNeil found that a lot of students still decided to stay for the Oktoberfest festivities during the week.

“Turnout was great. Early indications show it is a very well-attended festival,” he said.

Alex Bradbury, a recent graduate from Durham College, travelled from Oshawa to attend the festivities this year. He attended Oktoberfest in previous years and enjoyed the festival so much that he decided to make the trip for the experience again.

“It was my second time going because I had such a good time last year, I had to come back,” he said.

He explained that he loved the atmosphere, the costumes everyone was wearing and the inclusivity of German culture.

“Things I think could be improved — not a lot in all honesty. I think maybe they’d want to consider beer that isn’t just Coors or Canadian and maybe range out a bit on food choices,” said Bradbury.

While Oktoberfest is just a week-long event, MacNeil, his team of eight and 480 volunteers plan and prepare for the festival all year round.

“Planning is already underway for 2015,” he said.

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