Augustoberfest - a sister city salute

August 26, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

Last fall, Hagerstown restaurateur Charles Sekula, a native of Germany and vice chairman of Augustoberfest, escorted event chairman Phil Kelly to Munich, Germany, to help him experience a traditional Octoberfest on its home ground.

The festival in the German city is two weeks long and draws about 8 million people, Sekula said. "I showed him what it was really like."

The local version, Augustoberfest, will begin tomorrow evening, celebrating its ninth annual installment in downtown Hagerstown.

"That's where it belongs," Kelly said, adding that Munich's fall festival is in the heart of the city.

Kelly said Augustoberfest's purpose is to support the more than 50-year-old friendship, the "sister city" relationship, between Hagerstown and Wesel, Germany. Last year, festival proceeds made a $1,000 scholarship possible for the cities' youth exchange program.


With that support comes music, food, a classic car show, activities for children and a lot of fun.

The weekend festival will offer a variety of entertainment, all under a biertent, which will provide shelter from any unpleasant weather that might intrude.

Rain or shine the event will go on, Sekula said. "Nobody stops us."

Augustoberfest pays tribute to Washington County's German heritage. Alpen Echos and Manni Daum bands, Schuhslapper - translate that to "shoe slapper," according to Sekula - and Die Shlauber will be on hand Friday evening and Saturday to provide a taste of the "old country" - a bit of "oompah," German and Austrian folk music, as well as contemporary musical fare.

Traces of American culture also will be evident.

The event has included a rock 'n' roll concert for six years. Kelly admitted that a "light bulb" went on a while ago, when someone figured out a good way of using the festival tent always erected the Friday before Saturday events.

Tent rental is the event's biggest single expense, Kelly said. Making use of it Friday, garnering additional revenue and bringing crowd-pleasing performers to town made sense. "Oldies" performers have graced the tent in years past. This year's Friday evening program will feature the Frederick, Md.-based band The Shades, the Alpen Echos and Felix Cavaliere's Rascals.

The Rascals, formerly the Young Rascals, will headline Friday's show, bringing their late '60s early '70s classics to Hagerstown. Among their four No. 1 hits, half-dozen top-20 singles and top-20 albums are tunes that have a familiar ring.

There were "Good Lovin'," "Girl Like You," "I've Been Lonely Too Long," "Groovin'," "A Beautiful Morning" and "People Got To Be Free," and Cavaliere promised that his Hagerstown audience will hear the hits.

But, Cavaliere said, the performance will be a "hybrid," also including new material.

The Westchester, N.Y., native is putting together a studio in Nashville, Tenn., where's he's lived for more than 12 years. He said it's "weird" that there are so many musicians - Michael McDonald, Donna Summer, Steppenwolf - who have settled in the city known for country music. But it works for him.

He'll be joined under the tent by musicians who have been with him for several years. The original Young Rascals' parting was not a happy one. Cavaliere called the estrangement silly and sad.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Cavaliere will rent the organ he'll play under the tent in downtown Hagerstown. The Hammond B-3 that was such an integral part of the Rascals' sound is too heavy - 300 pounds - to tote from city to city.

And from city to city they go. This summer, the group has played dates in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, California and Oregon.

The audiences include plenty of young people - kids who weren't even born when the Rascals' tunes were hits, Cavaliere said.

"It's still fun," he added. "This summer has been magic."

Rascals magic will be on tap Friday. Gates open at 5 p.m.

Ninth annual Augustoberfest

Hagerstown's central parking lot

Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27

5 to 10 p.m. - Classic Car Show

5:30 p.m. - Alpen Echos

7:30 p.m. - The Shades

9:30 p.m. - Felix Cavaliere's Rascals

Saturday, Aug. 28

11 a.m. - Alpen Echos

Noon - Schuhslapper

12:15 p.m. - Manni Daum and Band

1:15 p.m. - Schuhslapper

1:30 p.m. - Alpen Echos

2:30 p.m. - Schuhslapper

2:45 p.m. - Manni Daum and Band

3:45 p.m. - Schuhslapper

4 p.m. - Alpen Echos

5 p.m. - Schuhslapper

5:15 p.m. - Manni Daum and Band

5:45 p.m. - Schuhslapper

6 p.m. - Die Shlauberger

Bands will alternate through the evening until 10 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 16 Public Square, Hagerstown; by phone at 301-791-3246 and online at

Tickets for Friday evening cost $20.

Tickets for Saturday cost $10 for adults and are free for children 12 and younger.

Two day combination tickets cost $25.

Children participating in Augustoberfest children's activities must be accompanied by ticket-holding adults.

For information, call 301-739-8577, ext. 116, or go to on the Web.

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