For one day only, lederhosen will be fashionable again.
This year’s Oktoberfest, scheduled for Saturday at Civic Center Park, will offer Fort Collins a taste of Germany. From polka to pretzels, the harvest celebration is guaranteed to turn anyone’s hair blonde.
This year’s event, kicking off at 11 a.m. with opening bells and the Dick Zavodny polka band, will include several traditional dancers, music and food, celebrating the German culture right here in Fort Collins.
“It’s a harvest festival and a celebration of community and German culture,” said Peggy Lyle, director of events and entertainment for the Downtown Business Association. “Everyone gets to be German for a day.”
And being German, for many, means drinking beer.
To celebrate one of the beer drinking capitals of the world, the festival will include several micro brews along with the Anheuser-Busch classics.
“There will be a perfect (beer) match for any taste,” Lyle said. “Everyone will have a favorite.”
And any German knows, nothing goes better with beer than a brat, and Alpine Sausage will make sure no one goes hungry. They’ll be selling four different kinds of “fried sausage” for $4 a pop.
Henrik Frei, co-owner of Alpine, said his father learned the business in Switzerland, and started it in the U.S. in 1972. The sausages they offer include smoked German, Swiss veal, French Swiss and Louisiana hot links.
Sausage won’t be the only food group. Vendors will also be selling German strudel and giant stuffed pretzels, among other traditional German treats.
Working off all the meat and beer won’t be a problem either.
Returning performers the Denver Kickers, a German soccer club and dance group, will keep the audience on their toes with Bavarian folk dancing.
Dressed in the traditional lederhosen and girdles, the Kickers feature dancers from age 6 to 50 and are known for the classic stomping, slapping, yodeling and “square dance” like techniques performed to traditional folk music.
Heidi Urie, the leader of the dance group and daughter of the founder, calls their performance a “crowd pleaser” for the whole family.
“If you don’t use your traditions, you lose them,” the first generation American and CSU graduate said. “It’s your identity. It’s where you came from.”
And where it came from, Oktoberfest is quite a big deal.
Originally beginning in Munich, where it was celebrated this year for the 174th time, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest harvest festival, with attendance reaching 6.2 million this year, according to Oktoberfest.de.
Frankie Wilcox, a lecturer and faculty advisor for the CSU German club, moved to the U.S. from Northern Bavaria at age 8. Her memories of the Oktoberfest celebration are fond.
“Everyone is in a great mood, and the celebration lasts all weekend long,” she said of her hometown’s festival. “It’s a time for family and friends to get together, and celebrate the good harvest. Everyone’s happy.”
Wilcox said breweries in Munich brew special beers that line numerous tables in a “beer garden.” The tradition started in German courts, but grew to include the entire nation.
“Germans take brewing very seriously,” she said.
Although Fort Collins’ event won’t quite match Germany’s, the DBA is expecting just as much spirit and even greater attendance then previous years, weather permitting.
Previously been put on by the Eyeopeners Kiwanis club, the event is being put on by the DBA for the first time. It’s being held later than usual due to their busy October schedule, but will otherwise be similar to years passed.
Amber Frickey, a senior international studies, business and German major and president of the German club, will man a booth at the event, offering German cookbooks and t-shirts, and is especially looking forward to the “brats and beer.”
The club, which meets on Wednesdays at Woody’s Pizza, attends the festival every year, and Frickey recommends it to anyone interested in international culture and trying something new.
“It’s great because it exposes you to a different culture,” she said of Oktoberfest. “I’m excited for the festival here in America, without having to go back.”
Staff writer Maggie Canty can be reached at email@example.com.
When: Saturday, Oct. 20
Where: Civic Center Park
Time: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.