As any avid drinker knows as September wanes and October waxes it marks the seventeen days that make up the Bavarian tradition known as Octoberfest. This German tradition that dates back to 1810 is known the world over as a celebration of German song, dance, food, and of course fine German beer.
The popularity of this over two hundred year old tradition has caused numerous cities the world over to emulate and remotely celebrate the original Octoberfest in their own way. Central Pennsylvania has a rich German heritage and strong, proud ties to the fatherland and thus celebrates in its own way.
In 1880 a private, membership club was started called the Lancaster Liederkranz. It is a German Singing Society and Cultural Club determined to perpetuate traditional “German singing, dancing, music, language, foreign exchange and culture for its members and their guests.”
Despite being a private club they host many festivals throughout the year to promote their mission outside their ranks as well as fundraise. Their most popular and quickly growing event is their own Octoberfest. This three-day festival offers traditional German music, dancing, food, and beer. This year attendees got to eat Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Kielbasa, Leberkase, German Potato Salad, Sauerkraut, and potato pancakes. They could wash down their favorite German food with a variety of delicious German beer from Hacker-Pschoor.
The beer varieties were: (click to see untappd ratings)
My personal favorite from the beer was the Munich Gold and of course I ate myself silly consuming bratwurst.
The highlight of the night is always the Alpenrose Schuhplattlers which are the club’s traditional German dancers. They are attempting to save a dying art and it is always impressive to watch them dance the same dances that Germans were dancing over two hundred years ago.
While it is a drunken good time it is not as out of control as many other heavy drinking culture celebrations and for a majority of the attendees it is about sharing and celebrating German culture and not about an excuse to pretend to adopt a false German heritage and get belligerently drunk. (I’m looking at you St. Patrick’s Day.)
It is a fantastic celebration that I go to annually for good food, good German beer, and some fun singing and dancing. Anyone in the area on the weekend of September 12th, 2014 I highly recommend checking it out. The money goes to a great organization and the festival is amazing.