An introduction to the Oktoberfest Kitchener-Waterloo
North America’s biggest Oktoberfest belts its way through nine days in the Canadian twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo.
Kitchener-Waterloo has sturdy German roots as many of the area’s original settlers were German-speaking Mennonites from Pennsylvania.
Kitchener was even called Berlin until anti-German sentiment prompted a name-change in 1916, during World War I.
Needless to say this sentiment is a long time gone and many locals not only claim but celebrate their German heritage.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest was started in 1969 after a group of organizers saw the event celebrated by Kitchener’s Concordia Club.
The lion's share of celebrations take place in festival halls operated by local German clubs including the Concordia Club, the Schwaben Club and the Alpine Club.
The Oktoberfest Kitchener-Waterloo happens thanks to support of not-for-profit groups and volunteers. Over 1500 volunteers get in on the act each year and typically raise $1.5 million for the area’s not-for-profit groups.
MARCH: A young woman takes part in the Oktoberfest parade in Kitchener. Pic: spaceamoeba
The most recognizable mascot is a crazy lookin’ fella called Onkel Hans, who bears a beer stein and a sausage.
He wears big, red, lederhosen. Onkel Hans is sometimes joined by Tante Frieda (Auntie Frieda), who wears a traditional Dirndl dress.
A huge deal is made about the Miss Oktoberfest, one of the region’s best and brightest young ladies.
Though there used to be a televised beauty pageant, Miss Oktoberfest is now chosen by a closed panel of judges and crowned at the Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball.
▪ Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball - a popular black-tie ball that culminates with the crowning of Miss Oktoberfest.
▪ Oktoberfest Idol - a talent quest which takes place at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts.
▪ A rock concert called "Rocktoberfest" takes place at the Queensmont Arena on the Sunday. During the Oktoberfest the arena is renamed "Altes Muenchen Haus"- Old Munich House.
▪ The Hip-Hoptoberfest has Canadian hip-hop acts performing at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. That’s renamed the "Karlsberghaus" for the Oktoberfest Kitchener Waterloo.
▪ So You Think You Can Tanz – A dance competition put on by the local German dance groups at the Alpine Club.
▪ Dogtoberfest – Competitions and games for families with dogs.
▪ Thanksgiving Day Parade – Canada’s biggest Thanksgiving parade winds its way through the streets of Kitchener and Waterloo. The parade is televised across Canada and regularly attracts more than 150,000 visitors
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