Oktoberfest! Prost!

Celebrating Oktoberfest “Okanagan Style” since 2010

In the early days in the Okanagan there was a solid contingent of settlers of German origin and in subsequent years this community has flourished. German immigration to Okanagan communities continues to the present.

In the Penticton area the German Canadian Heidelberg Club is non-profit social club and our purpose is to maintain the German language, culture and tradition.

The present-day Oktoberfest celebration was resurrected in 2010 and occurs annually every October at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

Not only is Penticton Oktoberfest a whole lot of fun, proceeds from each years event go to support worthwhile local charities.

The first Oktoberfest was held to celebrate the wedding of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, later  King Ludwig I)  to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. It was organized around a horse race and all the citizens were invited. The festivities were held on the fields in front of the city gates which became known as “Theresienwiese”(“Theresa’s meadow”) in honor of the Crown Princess, now called simply the “Wies’n”. (*1)

The event was an overwhelming success. The horse race was held again in 1811 as part of the state agricultural show – similar to what we in the Okanagan call “Fall Fairs” or “Harvest Fairs”. The festival was eventually extended to sixteen days and moved ahead to September to take advantage of better weather conditions. The last day of the festival is the first Sunday in October.

In Munich, the festival features of lots of beer and food, served in huge tents – some can hold up to 100,000! – owned by different breweries, restaurants, and other establishments.

Bands play traditional Bavarian music, as well as modern bands in the evening hours that play rock, pop, and dance music.

To keep with tradition, many visitors wear the traditional costume: Lederhosen for men; Dirndl dresses for women.

*1. http://www.muenchen.de/int/en/events/oktoberfest/history.html

Munich’s beer was always renowned and, of course, ample quantities were consumed during the wedding celebration! The tradition of beer and food stands at the Oktoberfest agricultural festival began in 1818 with small stands and over the years the festival grew to the massive event seen today. In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls.

The beers brewed for Oktoberfest are special brews.

During the first years of the Oktoberfest, the Bavarian brewing law from 1539 stipulated that beer could only be brewed between St. Michael’s day (September 29) and St. George’s feast day (April 23). It was forbidden to brew in the summer because the boiling process was considered a fire hazard. Moreover, bottom-fermented beer needs a temperature between 4–6°C for fermentation.

Oktoberfest beer may only be brewed by the Munich breweries, making it taboo for any other brewery to use this appellation. Over the years this has become a fierce competition and  every brewery channels its expertise and brewing craft to create a very special, distinctive beer every year. Each brewery has its own massive “tent” set up in the “Wies’n” – in actual fact they are more buildings than tents and the famed Hoffbrauhaus is in fact a huge hall.

In 2017 the 184th Oktoberfest will be celebrated!