What to know about Oktoberfest

Jinae West

The German holiday may be over, but the celebration continues

For every beer-lovin’ fool in need of an excuse to drink before noon, there is Oktoberfest.

It originally began on Oct. 12, 1810, as a celebration in honor of the marriage between a Bavarian prince and princess. Today it is the world’s largest annual festival, according to www.oktoberfest.de.

Oktoberfest opened on Sept. 16 with the traditional tapping of the keg and declaration of “O’zapft is!” (Bavarian for “It’s tapped!”) by Mayor Christian Ude. Held in Munich, Germany, thousands celebrated the 173rd year in all of its foamy, fermented glory.

Due to unfavorable weather conditions, Oktoberfest was eventually pushed back into September, said Stephanie Libbon, assistant professor in modern and classical language studies.

“They kept the name. They just moved the month,” she said.

Though Oktoberfest officially ended Tuesday, there are still ways to celebrate all month long. In honor of the German fare, several bars and restaurants in the area, such as Ray’s Place and Applebee’s, are serving special Oktoberfest lagers courtesy of Great Lakes Brewing Company.

“It’s pretty interesting,” Libbon said of her past experiences at other local festivals. “It’s very crowded. Lots of drunk people, lots of interesting booths, everyone just ready to celebrate.”

Libbon described a popular Oktoberfest tradition of sitting at long tables, raising heavy beer steins and rocking together in unison. She also cautioned future Oktoberfest goers to drink in moderation.

“Things can get pretty wild,” she said.

Although beer plays a central role, there are plenty of activities to entice and intrigue the sober and further delight the not-so sober. From the Oktoberfest costume and riflemen’s parade in Munich, Germany, to a seemingly endless amount of traditional Bavarian food and music all over the world, there’s something for everyone.

For those who are interested in getting in touch with German language and culture, there is a weekly coffee hour held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Wednesday in Satterfield Hall. Non-alcoholic refreshments and other baked goods are served.

Libbon said the coffee hours are very informal and a good way to meet others with similar interests.

“The coffee hour is open to anyone interested in using their German in a relaxed setting,” said Hildegard Rossoll, associate professor in modern and classical language studies. “Undergrads and graduate students, faculty, staff and members of the community at large are usually present.”

Geoff Greer, former Kent State graduate student and member of the Senior Guest Student Program, said he has taken part in more than his share of festivities throughout the years, including a few pilgrimages to the Oktoberfest in Germany. He encouraged students to come to the coffee hours and learn more about German culture this month.

“Twenty-five percent of the population claims to be of German heritage, but all Americans know about are three things: Hitler, Oktoberfest and beer,” Greer said.

Upcoming events in the German community include national German-American Day tomorrow and the popular Kris Kringle Mart in Akron opening near Thanksgiving.

Contact features correspondent Jinae West at [email protected].