Celebrate Augustoberfest: Learn 5 things about Germany

August 19, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Lead vocalist and accordion player John Schwab of the Kapelle Fellas plays during the 2006 Augustoberfest.
File photo,

Starting Saturday, thousands of people are expected to head to downtown Hagerstown to celebrate Augustoberfest, Hub City's mini-version of Oktoberfest -- alphorns and all.

But before then, here are a few things you can do to get in touch with German culture. Augustoberfest is a two-day event celebrating Hub City's German roots -- Hagerstown's founder Jonathan Hager was a German immigrant -- by mimicking what you might find at traditional Oktoberfest celebrations throughout Germany. Proceeds from the event support a scholarship program that sends local students to Wesel, Germany, Hagerstown's Sister City.

Activities vary each day. Eat the food of Bavaria or raise a stein. There are also family-friendly events in the Kinderwunderland both days, plus folk music and dance courtesy of die Schlauberger, Heidi and Heimat Echo Band and Alt-Washingtonia Schuhplattler Verein.

1. Learn about Wesel, Germany

This is Hagerstown's German sister city, which also has sister-city relationships with Felixstowe, United Kingdom, and Ketrzyn, Poland. The Sister City program was put into place after World War II, when Europe was rebuilding.


Famous Wesel natives include Peter Minuit -- the man who purchased present-day Manhattan, New York, for $24 in 1626. Today, you will find a park in Manhattan named for him. There is also Peter Minuit Plaza and a granite flagstaff base in the city's Battery Park depicting the purchase.

2. Say 'O'zapft is!'

Or "the barrel is tapped," as it is said during the ceremonial tapping of the first beer barrel at the opening of Munich's Oktoberfest, which boasted 3.3 million visitors last year, according to the Munich Oktoberfest's official website, .

3. Don't squash these bugs

Warwagens Air-Cooled VW Car Club is hosting a car show of vintage, air-cooled Volkswagens and custom-made bikes Saturday, Aug. 21, at Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

The Volkswagen show not an official Augustoberfest event, but organizers purposely picked Saturday for the event with hopes of attracting Augustoberfest crowds with other German-themed stuff. For more information, call 301-582-1452 or go to

4. Think outside the lederhosen

Augustoberfest's musical lineup has a mix of traditional and a modern twists. Die Schlauberger (aka Alpine Thunder) boasts about the blend on its website, The band plays polka music with a rock beat.

The band has performed at prior Augustoberfests. And they say Jimmy Buffett songs are in their repertoire.

5. Walk on by

On Saturday, the Piedmont Pacers Volksmarch Club will host a volksmarch, a noncompetitive walk. It starts at the Piedmont Pacers table at the Augustoberfest tent between 8 a.m. and noon. Participants have a choice between a 10-kilometer or 6-kilometer walk.

The walk proceeds along streets and roadsides throughout downtown Hagerstown and City Park. It's over at 3 p.m. Remember, it's not a race.

If you go...

WHAT: 15th annual Augustoberfest

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, to 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22

WHERE: Downtown Hagerstown's central parking lot, between Franklin and Washington streets

COST: Tickets cost $5 daily; free admission for children 12 and younger.

MORE: Go to

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