Delaware’s annual taste of Germany
Every fall, cultural festivals sprout up across the state to celebrate the diverse background of Delaware’s citizens. A highlight of the season is the Delaware Saengerbund Oktoberfest, which this year is set for the weekend of Sept. 21-23 at 49 Salem Church Road in Newark.
Oktoberfest began as a wedding celebration more than 200 years ago when Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on Oct. 12, 1810. The wedding was celebrated with multiple days of drinking, feasting and horse races. The celebration then became an annual event that is dear to the hearts of the German nation.
The Delaware Saengerbund iteration of the festival opens with a parade on Friday night featuring the Muenchner Kindl, or Munich Child, a symbol of the city of Munich who leads the opening parade of the Munich Oktoberfest. The child is dressed in brown monk’s garb with golden stripes, similar to that of the Benedictine order, founders of the city. German food such as bratwurst, weisswuurst and frankfurters are some of the main dishes at the festival. They’re complemented by fresh-made desserts such as torten and traditional plum cake.
There will be plenty of entertainment throughout the weekend, beginning with The Enzian Volkstanzgruppe, the Bavarian dance group of the Delaware Saengerbund. The group performs in the colorful, traditional costumes, which means lederhosen for the men and the dirndl—a dress consisting of a skirt, blouse, vest, apron, shawl, complete with a special hat—for the women.
Live music will be provided, with the band Almwind taking the stage on Friday, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, while Heidi and Heimat Echo will perform on Saturday afternoon. The Enzian Musikanten, the Saengerbund’s house band, will open the festival each day.
There will also be free amusement rides and midway games.
Samuel Kalb, of Wilmington, an avid fan of the festival, attributes the popularity of Delaware’s Oktoberfest to its authenticity. “The Delaware Saengerbund celebrates the Oktoberfest during the same time frame as Germany,” says Kalb. “The under-the-tent atmosphere is huge and amazing to view. Many of the folks that attend this great event have gone to Germany and experienced the same feeling of excitement as that of Munich, where it is celebrated. The Delaware Saengerbund provides authentic Bavarian old country style music and dancing, as well as food that is both traditional and homemade.”
For more information on the festival, Delaware Saengerbund can be reached by phone at 366-9454 or by email at Oktoberfest@delawaresaengerbund.org.