Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Reflections on last weekend's Germantown Oktoberfest (and Germantown Street Fest)

Munich's Paulaner friar now a relic of Oktoberfests past

Having just passed my 9th straight year of attending Oktoberfest celebrations a few blocks down from my home I have a few reflections on the 2013 version just past:

  • The split of the two festivals from one Germantown Oktoberfest into the Oktoberfest and the Germantown Street Festival gets more regrettable each year. In their interactions with me over the years Historic Germantown leaders have tended to play their motives for breaking with the churches over the community-congregation fundraiser close to the vest. They would not share their reasons even when they expressed dissatisfaction with mine as a local blogger on the subject. (There has been drama, too).
  • The split continues to strike me as lacking any d├ętente. This year Oktoberfest leaders but up an inflatable arch between the street fest and their celebration with a banner that read: "Nashville's Original German Festival". When entertainer Lari White posted on Twitter that she would be appearing at Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest tweeted back confusion about her appearance. Ms. White was actually slated to appear at Germantown Street Fest. Do the two sides appear to have any diplomatic relations at this point?
  • There are profound cultural and class differences that could be a wedge between these two festivals. Oktoberfest continues to be a homecoming for former Germantown residents. It tends to showcase German folk and country music. Germantown Street Fest has little "German" and a lot of "street fest". It inclines to popular music as well as more high-brow jazz (to go with that glass of wine). One Oktoberfest leader told me of personal concerns that there is an exclusive demographic moving into Germantown with less diverse tastes and less interested in preserving the community's history and character: young childless adults who likely will not lay down roots here and likewise are not concerned about the roots from whence Germantown sprang.
  • Funds preserve historic churches
  • The decision by Oktoberfest organizers to start their celebration on Friday evening (5p-9p) is a winner. If they do it again next year, I'll be back. The turnout was better than I expected for the limited offerings they had (mostly biergarten fare and polka music), but it had the feel of being more for the locals than Saturday's blitzkrieg of festival goers. If Germantown Street Fest organizers want to keep up, they might consider kicking off on Friday night as well. I can see the Friday Oktoberfest pre-party becoming its own thing.
  • How can they hold an authentic German Oktoberfest and not have authentic German beer on draft? The sponsor for Oktoberfest was American brewer Sam Adams. The sponsor of the Germantown Street Festival was local brewing company Yazoo Brew. I am not an opponent of either buying American or buying local, but I was disappointed that my only choice at a German festival was between Sam and Yazoo. One Germantown Street Fest beer puller offered the information that they did put the beer in Spaten cups (left over from last year?). Great. A veneer for my beer. When I bought my Paulaner stein filled with Paulaner beer here years ago I was told that Germany's festival sponsor shipped unused steins directly from Munich's Oktoberfest, which ended the week before Germantown's celebration. I always thought that was cool. I'm not demanding Reinheitsgebot, and I acknowledge that beers made in the German style make this a slippery question, but come on; no German beers offered at these German festivals? Really?

I usually record past impressions of Oktoberfest in photos, jump to see them.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting reading. I've got no dog in this fight - I've run the run and drunk the beer, but these are local issues.

    What struck me were your posts from 2008. Either you were much more in-tune with bad things going on in Salemtown back then, or the bad things have subsided somewhat and the area is a better place to live. Hope it is the latter.