| Enjoy a taste
of German fun at Oktoberfest this weekend
By Sammi King
Oktoberfest in September? What gives?
"Most people think that Oktoberfest always takes place in
the month of October," said Willi Gohs. "In Germany, the
Oktoberfest typically starts in September and lasts for six weeks."
Batavia resident Gohs is one of 300 area German-Americans who are
members of DANK, a benevolent nonprofit organization whose purpose
is to preserve German cultural traditions
DANK is sponsoring an Oktoberfest celebration in Elgin this weekend.
It promises to be a lot of fun with good food, good libations and
Gohs will be an official brewmeister at the festival. He's experienced
at pouring the German brew. He's even taken courses to be certified.
There's a right way and a wrong way to pour beer. I learned that
when I was a kid. In the 1950s, my grandmother had some guests over
and my grandfather offered to get drinks for everyone. He brought
in the highballs and manhattans and then sat down in his big old
stuffed chair with a nice cold bottle of Bud.
My grandmother scowled at him and then sent me into the kitchen
to get a glass. When I gave Grandpa the glass, he scowled back at
her and continued to drink from the bottle.
My grandmother then stopped scowling and went to chin-jutting.
I knew I had to intervene. I took the bottle of beer and poured
it into the glass. The foam rushed to the top faster than a water-logged
kid in search of air. I watched as the golden beer disappeared into
white bubbly froth. My grandfather refused to drink from the glass
and the conversation went flatter than the beer, untouched, beside
(My grandparents had a lovingly, scowling relationship that lasted
more than 50 years.)
The Oktoberfest will serve three authentic German beers and one
domestic, but no one will be over served.
"DANK is a family organization," Gohs said. "We
encourage parents to bring their children. Part of our training
in being certified is to make sure that no one has too much to drink.
In four years we've never had a problem."
The Fourth Annual Authentic Oktoberfest will be at the Carnival
Midway in the Meijer parking lot on the corner of Randall Road and
College Green Drive in Elgin.
Oktoberfest runs from 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday. It continues
on Saturday from noon to midnight and on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.
There will be authentic German food and German bands. Entertainment
will also include performances by German dancers, including the
Schuhplatters, German shoe slap dancers.
The food and beverages are available at a nominal cost. The entertainment
is free. For more information visit the DANK Web site at www.germanfun.org
or call (630) 830-9120
"Be prepared for a lot of fun," Gohs said. "We'll
sing, dance and schunkel."
"Schunkel?" I asked, unfamiliar with the term.
"Schunkeling is when people link elbows and sway to the music,"
said Gohs. "We have some really great German bands coming from
Chicago and Milwaukee. There will be a lot of schunkeling."
Bring the kids and head out to the DANK Oktoberfest. You might
be surprised how much fun schunkeling can be.
• To contact Sammi King, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.