Oktoberfest showcases German beer, food, culture in downtown Kent


Festival-goers sit outside Treno Ristorante in downtown Kent during Oktoberfest on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.

Chyenne Tatum

Armed with beers and brats, hundreds of people flooded downtown Kent Saturday for the cities fourth annual Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest is a German folk festival celebrating culture with beer, folk music and traditional German foods. The biggest festival is held every year in Munich for a 16 to 18 day period, starting at the end of September and continuing through mid-October.

In Kent, it’s a one-day celebration held downtown, where friends and families of all generations come to experience traditional German culture.

“The festival gets bigger and bigger every year,” said Heather Malarcik, the executive director of Main Street Kent.“We have 4,000 followers on social media now, so we might have to move to a bigger space next year.”

Booths lined the streets, and festival-goers had the choice to try different German dishes. Main Street Kent partners with local Kent food vendors to prepare popular German food, such as brats, strudel, soft pretzels and seasonal beverages.

Deutschklub Kent, the German cultural club at Kent State, had its own booth set up downtown. The club celebrates German cultural traditions and language, which one member said drew him to join the club.

“I’ve (had) German friends in the past,” said Prince Williams, a junior German literature, culture, and translation major and photographer for the group. “I was so interested in learning their language and their culture that I decided to really get involved, and that’s how I found Kent’s German club.”

The festival booked a traditional folk band and folk dancers from the German Family Society’s youth group. Carri Sensius, a youth group leader of the society, said the youth group allows kids to relate to the culture.

“A lot of the kids who join our youth group had ancestors who founded our society,” Carri said. “Learning traditional folk dance is a way for them to stay connected with their culture and they’re having so much fun with it.”

Lucas Sensius, her nephew, is a dancer in the group, said Oktoberfest is a time for Germans to get to know others in the community and he has fun performing for his heritage.

“It’s a big drinking day and a time for Germans to get to know other Germans in the community, so it’s fun being able to perform for my heritage,” he said.

Carri has also attended Oktoberfest in Munich and compared it to the festivals in the U.S. 

“It’s even more fun over there and there’s just tons of people dancing, singing, drinking — I love it,” Carri said.

Chyenne Tatum is an arts and entertainment reporter, contact her at [email protected].