Augustoberfest focuses on families

Organizers drop '60s music event and welcome child-friendly activities to 10th annual Bavarian-style festival

Organizers drop '60s music event and welcome child-friendly activities to 10th annual Bavarian-style festival

August 11, 2005

In its 10th year, Hagerstown's annual Augustoberfest is going back to its roots.

Far from a beer, bratwurst and Bavarian dancing extravaganza, the German-American festival will provide more family-oriented activities and entertainment than in past years reminding that "this is in essence a family festival," says Charles Sekula, Augustoberfest co-chair and owner of the Schmankerl Stube restaurant.

The Friday night rock 'n' roll concert, that was part of the weekend festival for the past seven years, has been cut in favor of enhanced Oktoberfest-style entertainment both Saturday, Aug. 13, and Sunday, Aug. 14.

Besides, organizers say, the Friday night event was no longer self-sustaining and it drew a different crowd than the main festival.


"We are going to do it strictly Bavarian," Sekula says. "We cannot offer everything that you would find in Munich (Germany), but then we have to consider that we have mostly American guests coming to the festival."

The Augustoberfest Charitable Foundation, the nonprofit organization that puts on the heritage event, strives to make the festival as German as possible.

For the first time in the festival's history, a Bavarian band will be coming from Germany to perform throughout the weekend.

Sekula hopes the performance by Die Bayernflitzers, which means "the fast Bavarians," will be the start of a new tradition getting German musicians to stop in Hagerstown.

"Hopefully we can continue bringing bands from the homeland," he says. "I would like to get a young group - I'm talking about 16- to 20-year-olds - over here."

Seeing young musicians from Germany might encourage Hagerstown-area teens to take advantage of exchange programs with Hagerstown's sister city, Wesel, Germany, Sekula adds.

"My main interest is to promote youth exchange," he says.

Augustoberfest has been successful in doing just that. The festival started as a way to celebrate Hagerstown's sister-city relationship with Wesel, declared in 1952. Over the years, the heritage event has raised enough money to provide scholarship funds for the exchange program, says Phil Kelly, chairman of the Augustoberfest Foundation. In past years and this year, guests from Wesel, Germany, have made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the event.

Each of the past two years, Augustoberfest raised enough money to provide $1,000 in scholarship money.

"This year we expect to easily make it," Kelly says. "The event has grown in attendance."

Last year, an estimated 2,500 attended the Augustoberfest between Friday and Saturday.

"I'm really excited this year," Kelly says. "I expect to see a full tent."

The Augustoberfest 16,800-square-foot tent will be set up at Hagerstown's Central Parking Lot off North Potomac Street, across from the city parking garage.

German culture, from the Brothers Grimm to bratwurst, highlighted

Kinderwunderland - The Augustoberfest weekend will feature an expanded children's tent called "Kinderwunderland" open from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Authentic Community Theatre (ACT) and Washington County Arts Council are sponsoring children's activities, including arts and crafts and "vignette performances."

Kids can create prince and princess hats, ribbon sticks and scepters to take part in ACT's "roving fairy tale performance" of "It's Grimm in Hagerstown." The 9- to 18-year-old actors and actresses of ACT's Summer Institute for the Arts will stage Brothers Grimm fairy tale stories throughout the festival space.

"These well-known and loved stories have been chosen to reflect the City of Hagerstown's German heritage," says Niki Perini, one of the ACT directors.

Performances start at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, and 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 14. Each performance procession will start in front of the children's tent.

Families also can check out Horn's Punch and Judy puppet show at 12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:05 p.m. and 3:55 p.m. Saturday; and at noon, 1:10 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:50 p.m. and 3:40 p.m. Sunday.

The Children's Party Wagon clowns will offer face painting and balloon sculptures and kids can learn how to make traditional Bavarian pretzels with Play-Doh.

At 3:15 p.m. both days, kids can listen to the fairy tale of "Hansel and Gretel" and then make crafts based on the tale.

Traditional food - Augustoberfest food, including bratwurst, sauerkraut and Bavarian potato salad, will be prepared and sold by the Schmankerl Stube Bavarian Restaurant. Draft beer from Munich, nonalcoholic beer and soft drinks also will be available.

Events - The Piedmont Pacers are sponsoring a Volksmarch beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday. The noncompetitive walk can be completed as a 10K or 5K trek on streets around Hagerstown. Walkers can register in the Augustoberfest tent between 8 a.m. and noon. The walk ends by 3 p.m.

Entertainment headliners include Manni Daum, Die Bayernflitzers, Die bayrischen Schuhplattler, the Heimat Echo Band with Alphorns.

A traditional German brunch - called Fruhschoppen - planned for Sunday is sold-out.

This is the first year there will be a craft vendor area.

If you go ...

WHAT: 10th annual Augustoberfest

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14

WHERE: Downtown Hagerstown across from the Central Parking Lot off North Potomac Street.

COST: $7 per day; free, children 12 and younger.

MORE: Food and beverages can be purchased at the event. Advance tickets are available online at or at the Convention & Visitors Bureau, 6 North Potomac St., 301-791-3246. A per transaction surcharge applies for advanced purchase tickets. Tickets will be available at the event. The event will be held rain or shine.

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