Updated: Jan 17, 2019
The smell of sauerkraut filled the air as swinging polka rhythms of an accordion echoed throughout Salisbury’s campus as German Club held its 46th annual Oktoberfest.
Though the real Oktoberfest, celebrated yearly Oct. 12, had already passed in Germany, the students of Salisbury University’s German Club couldn’t help but bring the festivities to the campus Oct. 24.
While Oktoberfest is a 16- to 18-day folk festival in Munich, Bavaria, Germany from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, it is only a one-day event for SU students to relax after the stress of midterm exams, papers and projects.
SU’s German Club hosted the event to celebrate and honor German culture, cuisine and traditions. They served German beer, bratwurst, sauerkraut and pretzels at the event.
The history of Oktoberfest dates back to 1810, where Prince Ludwig of Bavaria threw a party for the common man to celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. He soon became king, and the festivities became an annual celebration of his anniversary that continued even after his death.
Traditionally, Oktoberfest takes place outside the gates of Munich, and the attractions include everything from costumed dancers to traditional food and drink to historic music, and yes, lots of beer.
Here at SU, the German Club hosted games of corn toss, gave out free German food catered by a local company and had booths giving out prizes and free stuff from local organizations such as The Kiss Project. For those over 21, a beer garden was also available.
German Club President Matt Bernor appreciated the authenticity of the event. As president of the German Club, he has gotten the opportunity to see how international German foods have woven their way into American culture and cuisine.
“This is just authentic German food,” Bernor said. “In Germany, they love poultry, so we got some bratwurst here … they also traditionally make really great beer — Germans are well-known for really good beer, so that’s why we got a beer garden over here.”
Due to German pride over their beer, only beers brewed within the city limits of Munich are permitted to be served at the Munich Oktoberfest. During the 2013 Munich Oktoberfest, 7.7 million liters of German beer were served.
Bernor was pleased with the turnout for the event. After organizing and setting up for the event, he said he was happy with how it turned out overall.
“Overall, I think it’s pretty successful,” Bernor said.
Since the birth of Oktoberfest, there have been 24 years in which the festival was not celebrated, including the time from 1914 to 1918 during World War I, 1923 and 1924 due to inflation and from 1939 to 1945 during World War II.
Other clubs and students taking German language studies also participate in the annual event and hold their own fundraisers. The event also offered games such as cornhole and the lollipop pool.
German Club Vice President Olivia Clinton said this event appeals to a wide range of people in the Salisbury community, not just members of the German Club. She believes Oktoberfest has a cultural value and significance to the larger Salisbury community.
“A lot of the people in the community really enjoy it,” Clinton said, “so it would be a waste not to keep it going.”
German Club even had its advisor, Charles Overholt, playing the accordion to celebrate traditional German music. The accordion’s basic form is believed to have been invented by Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann in Berlin in 1822.
Clinton said they wanted to incorporate as much German culture as possible into the event. She said Oktoberfest is a fun way to celebrate German culture while also learning about the history of the festival.
“I think it turned out well,” Clinton said. “I mean, we had a great line for the food … we ran out of sauerkraut at one point, so I think that was great … and a lot of people have been playing the games, so that’s really good for us.”
By MELISSA REESE and GILLIAN VANDITTA
Featured photo: The 46th annual Oktoberfest was held on Fulton Lawn (Melissa Reese image).