Big Walnut High School holds annual Oktoberfest sans bier
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
It might be shorter than its German counterpart, and there’s no bier, but Big Walnut High School German language students celebrate Oktoberfest with the same level of enthusiasm as residents of München.
Oktoberfest is a 16-day festival held each year in Munich, Germany during late September and early October. It is one of the most famous events in the city and the world’s largest fair, with some six million people attending every year.
Beer plays a central role in the German version of Oktoberfest, with every festival beginning with a keg of beer tapped by the Mayor of Munich who declares “O’zapft is!” — Bavarian for: “The beer is tapped!” The first one-liter-tankard of bier is then served to the Bavarian Prime Minister
A special Oktoberfest beer is brewed for the occasion, which is slightly darker and stronger in both taste and alcohol. Only local Munich breweries are allowed to serve this beer in a Bierzelt, a beer tent that is large enough for thousands.
Oktoberfest is known as the Largest People’s Fair in the World, with 72 percent of the people coming from Bavaria and 15 percent of visitors coming from foreign countries like the surrounding European Union countries and other non-European countries including the United States, Japan, Brazil and Australia.
Oktoberfest numbers are impressive. 12,000 people are employed at the Oktoberfest. Of these, 1,600 are waitresses (a.k.a Barmaids). There is seating available for 100,000 people. During a typical German Oktoberfest 102 whole oxen are roasted, 439,000 sausages are consumed, and 460,000 roast chickens are sold.
One statistic of note, 60 percent of Oktoberfest visitors arrive by public transport. There are no statistics available indicating how the other 40 percent get home after a day in the bier tents.
According to Big Walnut High School German language teacher Frau Georgia Craig, Oktoberfest might be compared to the Ohio State Fair … except take away the livestock and add much more beer.
For their annual one-day Oktoberfest on October 29 Big Walnut High School German Language students brought in German desserts, German Club provided brats and sauerkraut – which were consumed without bier.
“We use Oktoberfest as a celebration of our October studies; a celebration of all their hard work,” Frau Craig said. “Different grade levels had different themes.”
German I students did projects based on Reunification, German-American Heritage and Oktoberfest. German II students studied famous German Americans. German III Honors studied and created their own Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Signs.
“AP German language students did power point presentations on various topics like the German school system, religion, politics and holidays,” Frau Crag said. “Each class got to choose a movie to watch — Forrest Gump, Lord of the Rings and Gladiator were popular this year.”
Frau Craig noted that the movies were dubbed over in the German language. She purchases them from Germany via the Internet, and sometimes buys movies during summer visits to Deutschland.
Frau Craig said the German language students’ Holiday Canned Food Drive to help stock shelves at Big Walnut Friends Who Share is on the horizon; and German language students will be caroling during Christmas on the Square and in neighborhoods near the high school.