September 28, 2014

Oktoberfest, Richmond-style


The end of September brings a bevy of festivals and events to Richmond, not least among these St. Benedict Catholic Church's Oktoberfest celebrations.  Last weekend marked their 10th annual Oktoberfest in which they remember the German heritage of Richmond with traditional Bavarian polka, dancers, food, and of course, beer!

The Low'n'Brows German Band
The festival takes place in the large parking lot and adjacent streets around St Benedict's in the Museum district of Richmond from Friday through Sunday on the same first weekend of Munich's Oktoberfest.  We chose to visit on that Sunday with my mother-in-law, herself an immigrant from northern Bavaria, when the crowds were smaller and more family friendly.  The strains of an accordion tiptoeing through the notes of polka music and the sight of Bavarian flags dancing in the breeze greeted us as we arrived.  Entry is free of charge, so we walked right on in!

The bierzelt dominated the parking lot and housed the musicians and plenty of blue and white checkered tables for beer drinkers and sausage eaters to enjoy the atmosphere in the shade.  Although we did not partake in the beer that day, we were happy to see many familiar beers both from Germany and from local breweries on tap: Franziskaner's Hefe-Weisse, Original Munchner's Helles Lager, Oktoberfest Marzen Lager, Midnight Brewery's New Beginning Koelsch, and Hardywood's RVA IPA, just to name a few.  The food tents also evoked pleasant memories of all our visits to Germany: large pretzels, various wurst (sausage), kartoffelsalat (potato salad), and the sharp, delicious smell of sauerkraut.  And there was plenty of Lebkuchenherzen (a traditional gingerbread cookie in the shape of a heart) for sale in the market section of the festival!

By far, the highlight of our afternoon was watching the Schuhplattler dancers.  Schuhplattler is a traditional dance from Upper Bavaria (the southern, alpine portion of the state) which features knee-slapping, thigh-thumping, foot-stomping men in lederhosen and alpine hats, accompanied by a few dirndl-wearing ladies to soften the overall performance.

(Video from YouTube and not of the St Benedict Schuhplattler dancers themselves)

We couldn't get enough of these dancers and wish they could have danced through the entirety of the afternoon!  Between the dancers, the frequent refrains of Ein Prosit, and a few platefuls of wurst, German chocolate cake, and pretzels, our pining for Germany was slightly alleviated and inspired us to start researching a return trip to our European home!

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Next month the Richmond Oktoberfest Committee will be presenting their 46th Annual Oktoberfest celebrations at the Richmond International Raceway!  According to their website, they draw large crowds on both their Friday and Saturday night celebrations.  Will I see you there?!

Have you been to the Oktoberfest in Munich?  Does your hometown host Oktoberfest celebrations like this one?

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Linking up with A Southern Gypsy for #WeekendWanderlust and...


...with Chasing the Donkey for #SundayTraveler!

14 comments:

  1. That sounds so cool! A little bit of Germany in the heart of the USA :) I would love to see some Schuhplattler dancing! Guess I'll have to make do with the Berlin Oktoberfest this year - if I even make it there! I don't know if Dublin does anything like this but you'd think in a nation that drinks as much as we do, that we should do it! Linda.

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    1. Uhhhh yeah! Any excuse for a little imbibing!

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  2. Ok, so I love that Schuhplattler dancing involves a bit of butt-kicking! I have yet to visit an Oktoberfest celebration here in L.A., and unfortunately, I'll be out of town this upcoming weekend for this year's big celebrations although there are other Oktoberfest celebrations going on in the South Bay until late October. You've definitely inspired me to check it out!

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    1. I was so fascinated by those dancers! I could've watched them for hours. It looked like a lot of hard work!

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  3. This is the first year that Vancouver is hosting a major Oktoberfest celebration. I'm going to be checking it out in Thursday and I'm pretty excited! I haven't been to the one in Munich so I don't really know what to expect. This one you went to looked like a lot of fun.

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  4. Ooh Oktoberfest! I still have yet to attend a celebration even though we have them all over the place here in the Toronto area. I hope to get out to one soon! :) Thanks for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust!

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    1. You really, really should! It's a beer lover's delight!

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  5. I've been to Munich, but it was the middle of summer, and everyone seemed to be concentrating on football. There was a large German immigrant community in a town near where I live, so they put on a Wurstfest every year. If it's as good at the one you attended in Richmond, I really need to make a point of going. I can acutally hum along with a bit of Ein Prosit, so that should help me blend in. That Schuhplattler dance looks like so much fun.

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    1. The Ein Prosit song is the easiest one for a non-speaker to learn. "Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gem├╝tlichkeit" - and repeat over and over with the tune until people just start belting out "PROOOOOOOST!!!" :)

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  6. What a fun festival. We've been a couple of Oktoberfest advertised but have never attended any. I'm not much of a beer drinking. I would however love to see some Schuhplattler dancers perform. Thanks for linking up to #WeekendWanderlust.

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    1. Those Schuhplattler dancers totally made the whole event. Oh, and the beer, too. ;)

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  7. This looks like so much fun! I've never really attended a true Oktoberfest festival but really want to! Thanks for linking up to #WeekendWanderlust and #SundayTraveler :)

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    1. You should check one out next year after your super awesome Asia trip!!!

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