By LESLIE EIKLEBERRY
ABILENE — It’s almost time for the third annual Abilene Oktoberfest!
Thousands of people have attended the first two years and this year’s event is expected to be just as popular.
The Oktoberfest is scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday in downtown Abilene and run until midnight. Organizer Heidi Anderson, one of the Oktoberfest organizers, said that North Broadway Street between Northwest Fourth Street and Northwest Third Street will be blocked off for the event.
Admission to Oktoberfest is free, as is parking, which is within walking distance of the event, Anderson said.
“Be ready to experience an authentic German Oktoberfest,” said Anderson, who owns Kansas Best Realty in Abilene.
According to Anderson, Oktoberfest will include the following.
- German food
- German music
- A button box player
- The KC Blautaler Schuhplattler dancers
- Kids activities and bouncy houses
- Stein hoisting competitions
- KC Bier (beer)
“Tables with fresh flowers will be lined up the length of the street. On top of every hour, we will gather the crowd and link arms to sing and toast to Ein Prosit and Fliegerlied, both songs that will require the crowd to join in,” Anderson said. “You will see quite a few Women and men dressed in German Lederhosen and Dirndls.”
Anderson’s own German ancestry played a role in the Abilene Oktoberfest becoming a reality.
“Being of German descent, I wanted to offer this community an authentic German Oktoberfest. We don’t have anything like this in nearby towns, so my group of Germans and I decided to start hosting this festival,” she explained.
“The first two years, we had no idea 2000 people would come. It was absolutely amazing!” Anderson said. “This will be our third year and we are expecting a nice crowd. The weather will be perfect, and as the sun sets, the lights will go on, good music will be enjoyed. We’ll have great entertainment, good German KC Bier (Dunkel & Fest Bier), crowd participation (if willing), and authentic German food.”
If you want a souvenir of Abilene Oktoberfest, shirts, hats, and 22 ounce mugs will be for sale, Anderson noted.
Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to check out downtown Abilene.
“Abilene has a lot to offer, downtown merchants will be open — all within walking distance — so we encourage you to walk around town and shop,” Anderson said.
The history of Oktoberfest
You might be wondering, if it is Oktoberfest, why is it happening in September? According to the history page on ofest.com, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, the traditional home of the festival, starts in September and ends the first Sunday of October.
Oktoberfest has its roots in a 1810 royal wedding. According to ofest.com, “Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were renamed Theresienwiese (‘Theres’a Fields’) to honor the Crown Princess, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to ‘Wiesn’. Horse races in the presence of the royal family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in subsequest years gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest.”
Over the years, activities and entertainments were added to Oktoberfest, and today “the Oktoberfest in Munich is the largest festival in the world,” ofest.com noted.