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Festival imports Munich

August 29, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Kelley Anthony of Sharpsburg worked up a sweat as she tapped her feet to the beat while dancing with her 4-year old son, Patrick, at Saturday's Augustoberfest celebration in downtown Hagerstown.

"My dad used to drag me out to the dance floor," said Anthony, remembering the times her family attended Oktoberfest celebrations in Baltimore when she was a child.

Augustoberfest is a scaled-down version of Munich, Germany's Oktoberfest celebration that attracts millions of people from around the world, said Charles Sekula, the owner of the Schmankerl Stube, a German restaurant in downtown Hagerstown.

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Sekula, a native of Germany, also is vice chairman of Augustoberfest. For nine years, Hagerstown has sponsored Augustoberfest to celebrate the area's German history and to support Hagerstown's relationship with Wesel, Germany, its sister city, he said.

"This area was settled largely by Germans," event chairman Phil Kelly said. "A lot of German heritage (is) around here."

The festival featured several live bands playing German folk music. Those in the crowd said they had a lot of fun performing traditional dance and clapping to the music.

Barbara Shuman and Bob Shives, both of Hagerstown, said Augustoberfest gave them a chance to connect to their German heritage.

"My father's family are Pennsylvania Dutch," Shuman said. "They settled in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in about 1790."

Shives lived and worked in Worm, Germany, for three years when he worked for the U.S. Army.

"It was the Camelot of our life," Shives said. "I found relatives that I didn't know existed while I was there. We experienced a German family reunion."

Shives has attended Augustoberfest every year since the celebration started.

This year's two-day event cost about $85,000 and was funded by the Augustoberfest Charitable Foundation, Sekula said. The foundation donated $1,000 from last year's event to the city's German youth exchange program.

The City of Hagerstown supports the event by providing in-kind services, public information director Karen Giffin said.

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