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Hub City goes German at Augustoberfest

August 14, 1999|By ERIN HEATH

When Hans and Linda Reischl came to Augustoberfest, held Friday and Saturday at the North Potomac Street Pavilion, they got a little taste of home.

The Reischls, who live near Munich in Neubeuern, Germany, were in the area to visit some of Linda Reischl's relatives when they heard about the fourth annual celebration of Hagerstown's German heritage.

They were among nearly 3,500 people who came to Augustoberfest on Saturday to enjoy German cuisine, live entertainment and activities.

Linda Reischl, who is originally from Cockeysville, Md., moved to Germany 29 years ago to study the language. There she met her husband, Hans, and started a career teaching English to German students.

Being at a German festival in America was a little strange, but definitely a treat, she said.

"It's very interesting to see it away from home," she said.

Reischl said one of the best parts of the festival was being able to drink German beer again. Her husband smiled and nodded in agreement.

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Augustoberfest kicked off Friday evening with the Oldies Night concert, which featured the Shangri-Las, the Tokens and the Regents.

Saturday's events included performances by the Hagerstown Municipal Band, the Maryland Symphony Brass Quintet and a host of German bands and dance ensembles.

When Peter Black of Raleigh, N.C., flew into the area to visit his friends Mike and Jacqueline Cragin of Caledonia, Pa., he said they went straight from the airport to Augustoberfest.

"I wish we had something like this in Raleigh," he said.

Jacqueline Cragin, whose mother was born in Germany, said she has traveled to that country numerous times to visit relatives.

"We used to wear the dirndls (German-style dresses) and do the dances," she said.

Festival growing

Charles Sekula, Augustoberfest chairman since the event's inception, said he was pleased with the festival's growth since its first year, when it attracted a crowd of 800.

Next year, he said, the festival committee plans to expand Augustoberfest into a three-day event.

"I think it was a great success," he said.

A number of German immigrants settled the Hagerstown area in the mid-18th century, including the town's founder, Jonathan Hager, Sekula said.

'Sister cities'

In 1952, the City of Hagerstown and Wesel, Germany, formally proclaimed themselves "sister cities."

They have since collaborated on programs designed to promote cultural awareness, such as an annual student exchange. Augustoberfest not only celebrates Hagerstown's roots but also the link between the two cities, Sekula said.

About 65 volunteers, most of whom were dressed in authentic German clothes from Munich, contributed to the event, he said.

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