September is time for Oktoberfest
September isn’t a month for anything: It isn’t summer, and it isn’t fall.The barbecue season is all but forgotten. The pools have closed, and the rivers turned cold. The mornings are chilly, and the sun sets too soon. All the summer’s fun is just a memory, and the expectations of winter are still months away. September is a month of memories – and not a whole lot else. But September does have one redeeming quality. And that’s October. Or at least Oktoberfest.What Oktoberfest is or where it came from most folks don’t know. All we know is that it is a German festival that takes place sooner than its name would lead you to believe.”I think it’s just a big German party,” said Jeff Jackel, Carbondale’s recreation director. “It’s turned into an American opportunity for a big beer bash.”And though it is a big beer party, Oktoberfest does have a history, Jackel said.It all began in 1810, when German Princess Therese was married to the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig. They had a grand celebration, inviting people from all over the country, and staging a horse race for 40,000 enthusiasts from all over Bavaria. The purpose of the celebration, Jackel said, “was to first, give thanks for the past years crops. And second, to share in the joy of the occasion with the family.”And the festival continues this weekend with celebrations all over the world, from Munich to Miami, and even Carbondale. “In Munich the festival begins as the clock of St. Paul’s Church strikes 12 noon and the burgermeister enters one of the beer tents and taps the first stein during a 12-cannon salute. Bands, floats and decorated beer wagons drawn by beautiful horses wind their way through the downtown streets and out to the festival grounds,” a press release from Jackel reads.The Carbondale Oktoberfest also begins amid pomp, circumstance and Mayor Michael Hassig.”I simply put on my top hat, read the proclamation, and then I drink beer,” Hassig said. “I drink my ritual beer at 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning,” Hassig said. Then he added: “which is not usually how I start my Saturday.”And though beer drinking is a big part of Oktoberfest, Carbondale has invited the Polka Playmates, the Steve Rock Bavarian Band and, for the first time, Czech and Slovak dancers will teach spectators polka dance. “(The performers) will add a whole new touch of class to the event,” Jackel said. After just three years, Oktoberfest has already become one of many popular Carbondale festivals. The first year, Oktoberfest took place in 4th Street Plaza, but moved to Main Street between Third and Fourth streets last year, with a 1,500-2,000 person crowd. “It’s gotten … bigger and bigger every year,” Jackel said. “If there are German people up and down the valley; they find their way to Carbondale,” he said. Oktoberfest opens with the Coors Bavarian Beer Garden at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Polka Playmates will perform from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Main Street Stage, followed by the Steve Rock Bavarian Band from 2-6 p.m., and the Czech and Slovak dancers from 1-3 p.m.The Carbondale Rodeo has also cashed in on Oktoberfest and is hosting the final rodeo of the year, Lassos & Lederhosen, at 3 p.m. at the Gus Darien Riding Arena.The Carbondale Rodeo has also cashed in on Oktoberfest and is hosting the final rodeo of the year, Lassos & Lederhosen, at 3 p.m. at the Gus Darien Riding Arena.
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