Old World Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest began in 1810 with the wedding feast of Princess Therese and the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig . The feast was held in a meadow adjacent to Munich. As part of the entertainment, a horse race was staged for 40,000 enthusiasts from all over Bavaria. The party lasted five days. Such was the success of this party that to this day Germans around the world continue to commemorate it each October. Oktoberfest is celebrated for two purposes:
First to give thanks to the Lord for the past year's crops and other blessings.
Second to share in the joy of the occasion with the family in the spirit of true love.
One of the most famous Oktoberfests is held in Munich. The festival comes alive at noon on opening day when, as the clock of Saint Paul's Church strikes 12 noon, the Burgermeister enters one of the beer tents and taps the first cask and quaffs the first stein during a 12 canon salute. One of the highlights of the fest is the Trachtenfest parade, in which thousands of participants from all over Germany dress in their native costume. Bands, floats and decorated beer wagons drawn by beautiful horses wind their way through the downtown streets and out to the festival grounds.
Saint Paul Oktoberfest
The Saint Paul Oktoberfest celebrates the proud Germanic heritage of Saint Paul's North End neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods. Germans are the largest single immigrant group in Minnesota and many parishes and schools in the area were founded by German immigrants. In Saint Paul, Rice Street has long played an important role to the German people of the area. In 1920, more than fifty German-American societies worked together to build the German House or Deutsches Haus at 438 Rice Street. This three-story brick building had a Ratskeller, a 1,000-seat theater and bowling alley. It hosted countless sports, theatrical, musical and cultural events until it was torn down almost forty years later.
The first Oktoberfest in the North End was celebrated in 2001 and is now held in the Klub Haus near the intersection of Rice Street and Magnolia. Many know this building as the former North End Improvement Club, now newly renovated with beautiful copper ceiling décor, dark wood tables and a smooth upstairs dance floor. Each year volunteers from around the area work together to enjoy family and friends, the blessings of the harvest, love, and commitment. The Oktoberfest features authentic German foods and drinks, canons being shot, costumed revelers, folk music and dancing, a bed race, and the ever popular dachshund races. In past years, highlights of the evening included the re-enactment of the 1810 wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxon-Hildburghausen.
The Saint Paul Oktoberfest is supported by a collaboration of North End and Saint Paul community organizations and German heritage and cultural groups throughout Minnesota.