March 25, 2023


The familiar chant “Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi” resounded across Kitchener’s City Square as the verse was recited by thousands of festival goers who attended the Oct. 10 opening ceremonies of this year’s Oktoberfest.

Started in 1967 with a vote of confidence and $200, the festival has grown to be the largest Oktoberfest in the world outside of Munich, Germany. This year marked the 46th time it has been held. An estimated 700,000 people were expected to attend.HSOktoberfest_7

The festival is said to originate from the wedding festivities of King Ludwig I and Queen Therese Von Sachesen-Hildenburghausen in Bavaria, Germany, in 1810. There, the King’s father approved horse races which became an annual event. According to the Oktoberfest website, “It wasn’t until 1818 that booths, serving food and drink, were set up at the event. In the late 1800s, the booths had grown into large beer halls or tents which are still set up each year.” Along with the beer were pretzels, sausage with sauerkraut and schnitzel, which is still served today.

Kitchener itself has some German roots, making it a good spot for the festival to be held. “Kitchener used to be Berlin, so there is that German original community and this is just a part of it,” said Anne Kroisenbrunner, a festival attendee.

This year’s festival had a lot of magic surrounding it. A very unique part of the ceremonies was the renewing of wedding vows between mascots Onkel Hans and Tante Frieda, Han’s wife, the latter having been away from the festival since 1985. A ribbon was tied between their two orange hands and a kiss sealed their reunion.

The main event was the tapping of the keg. It took multiple tries with the mallet in order to push the stopper into the keg, but soon the beer was flowing. The people on the stage then clinked their beer steins together and took a long drink. The festival also included German dancing in traditional Bavarian dress for male and female dancers, pretzel throwing and the well-known chicken dance.

This year’s Miss Oktoberfest is Lindsay Kalbfleisch. She wore the Oktoberfest crown and the traditional clothing called a Tracht, which includes a dirndl (traditional dress) and a short-sleeved blouse.

This year’s Oktoberfest, which ran until Oct. 18, had many events including a parade, a fashion show and a treasure hunt.

“I love it,” Kroisenbrunner said. “My background is Austrian so it’s a part of me. I love the parade. I’m part of the Alpine Club, so we’re involved there with the dance group.”

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