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Let's 'feier'!

Party with a German accent during Augustoberfest

Party with a German accent during Augustoberfest

August 20, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

For two days near summer's end, Hagerstonians celebrate the city's German heritage with the annual Augustoberfest.

And to think it all started as a family reunion.

Charles Sekula, owner of Schmankerl Stube, said Jane Burhans, the late wife of former Hagerstown mayor Winslow Burhans, approached him about putting together a reunion for about 200 family members.

Sekula said Burhans told him the event happened every two years and that the person in charge was supposed to out do last year's event.

"I asked her if she would be amenable to a miniature version of Octoberfest," he said. "It scared her to death."

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Scared or not, Burhans gave her OK. Today, the Augustoberfest event continues with the help of 125 volunteers.

This year's event is from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, at the Central Parking Lot in downtown Hagerstown.

Karen Giffin, director of community affairs for the City of Hagerstown, said in its 14 years, Augustoberfest has grown - from one day in length to two days and from 200 attendees to 3,000.

A native of Bavaria, Germany, Sekula said growing up in Germany he would often attend Octoberfest in Munich.

The Augustoberfest is a much smaller version of the famous German event. For instance, while the Hagerstown event attracts thousands, Sekula said the German event attracts nearly 8 million.

"Our beer tent has room for 1,000. They have seats for eight- to twelve-thousand," Sekula said.

At Augustoberfest, Giffin said the activities are typical of what a visitor would find at a traditional German Octoberfest. That means there's more to do than raise a stein or two.

Giffin said there are plenty of activities for families. Both days a children's area will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Activities including a Punch and Judy puppet show, a magic show, arts and crafts activities and storytelling.

Giffin said there are really two groups who come to the event: families and their extended families.

"It's mom, dad and the kids along with the grandparents," she said.

As a way to burn off some calories before digging into the German cuisine, a Volksmarch begins at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Augustoberfest partnered with Piedmont Pacers to put on the noncompetitive walk. There are two routes - a 10-kilometer walk with a 5-kilometer trail.

There are also 14 craft vendors at this year's event.

Forecasters are predicting a sunny weekend, but even if skies get a little gray, Giffin said people can duck under the hospitality tent. Augustoberfest will take place rain or shine.

As with any good German celebration, there is music. Giffin said Heidi and Heimat Echo with their alphorns will return.

Die Schlauberger will play not only traditional German songs, but also a little rock 'n' roll. And the Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattler Verein, a dance troupe, also performs.

Money raised from the event goes back to next year's Augustoberfest, Giffin said.

Some funds also benefits the Sister City Scholarship, which sends local students to Hagerstown's sister city, Wesel, Germany.

If Jane Burhans were alive today, Giffin said she would have been proud of how Augustoberfest has grown.

"She would have enjoyed it," she said.




If you go ...



What: Augustoberfest

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23

Where: Central Parking Lot, downtown Hagerstown

Cost: $5 per day for adults; free for children 12 and younger. Children must be accompanied by a paying adult

Contact: For more information, complete schedule or a menu, go to www.augustoberfest.org

More: Fruhschoppen brunch tickets are sold separately. Limited availability. Call 301-739-8577, ext. 116.

Augustoberfest schedule highlights



Saturday, Aug. 22

8 a.m. - Volksmarch, a noncompetitive 10-kilometer walk, with a shorter 5-kilometer trail.

10:30 a.m. - Hospitality tent opens, Central Parking Lot

11 a.m. to 10 p.m. - Die Schlauberger, Heidi and Heimat Echo Band with alphorns and Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattler Verein, at Central Parking Lot, downtown Hagerstown

Noon to 5 p.m. - Children's area includes Punch and Judy show, magic show, arts and crafts activities, storytelling

Sunday, Aug. 23

10:30 a.m. - Gates open

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Frhschoppen, a German brunch

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Die Schlauberger, Heidi and Heimet Echo Band with alphorns and Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattler Verein, at Central Parking Lot, downtown Hagerstown

Noon to 5 p.m. - Children's area includes Punch and Judy show, magic show, arts and crafts activities, storytelling

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