Oktoberfest in full swing
It is “es ist ausgezeichnet” in German, or “It is excellent” in English. That is the way Cape resident and German American Social Club member Robert Hobble feels about Oktoberfest.
He was one of the first ones in the gates Friday when one of Cape Coral’s biggest parties – Oktoberfest at the German American Social Club – opened.
“It is the music and the beer, together” Hobble said. He was born in Deutschland. “Here it is a great change of pace; it puts you in a different place.”
Friend Margaret Terleckyj agreed. She’s 100 percent German. “I like everything about the festival.”
The fest is now in full swing. Organizers are hoping to break records in attendance, and should be well on their way after the start of the two-week festival Friday.
Oktoberfest will be held over two weekends, running through Sunday, Oct. 21 this week and then be back again Friday, Oct. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 28.
Officials expect more than 35,000 people and, with projected great weather, they hope to even beat that.
It is the 27th annual Oktoberfest here. While doors opened at 4 p.m., the “official opening” wasn’t until 8 p.m., according to Club president Hubert Prem.
“That is when the mayor of Cape Coral, Mayor John Sullivan, tapped the first keg at 8 p.m.”
Sullivan said he enjoys that opening; this will be his second year at the tap.
“It’s not all cut and dry,” he said, “We get soaked.”
This was his second year doing the honors. “I always enjoy it,” he said.
Gates open on Fridays at 4 p.m. and the fun goes until until midnight.On Saturday festival hours are noon to midnight and Sundays noon to 9 p.m.
There will be continuous music and dancing and all the German food and drink favorites, a kids area and more.
Besides the incredible food, music and “bier” fun, there will be drawings each day for numerous trips.
“On Friday and Saturdays both weekends we’re giving away a round trip ticket by Jet Blue to anywhere they fly,” said Steve Amann, chairman of the Oktoberfest celebration. “On both Sundays we are giving away an Air Berlin trip to Germany, round trip tickets for two; two of those will be given away every Sunday.
“All during the festival at random times we will also be doing random drawings for tickets to Key West on the Key West Express. That will be during a polka contest, a beer stein holding contest and a chicken dance contest.”
He and co-chair Teresa Kohl were busy, along with club president Hubert Prem and Publicity Chairman Rick Hines.
One of the biggest attractions to many is the food, especially the uber-popular potato pancakes.
“My first job when I came here in 1998 was working in the potato pancake kitchen,” said Hines. “It’s a busy place. It’s hot and sweaty and you come home smelling like them. But they are delicious.”
They made 34,400 last year.
“We’ll do at least 35,000 this year or more.”
The chef behind it all is Guido Polman.
“I’m from Germany and studied in Germany, Switzerland and South Africa,” he said. He then became certified to teach culinary arts, but found his career path going to opening hotels and restaurants in both South Africa and then here in Cape Coral.
“My first Oktoberfest was October 2000,” he said. “It is always fantastic.”
Ask anyone about his food and they will agree.
Club President Prem said he enjoys the music most – second only to the beer.
“We have our headlining act, a German band flown in from Maselheim, the ‘Maselheimer Musicians.’ They are around a 35-piece, very big, strong brass band. They’ll be performing every day.”
He said they are great people.
“They are from a part of Germany called Swabia where people are very friendly, and they have lots of festivals. They are also a wine country, and love their wine.”
He’s a beer man.
“Light or dark, all German beer is my favorite.”
The cost of admission is $5 in advance and $6 at the gate, with children under 11 free.
In Cape Coral, advance tickets can be purchased at the German American Club, all Hess Express stations, the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce and Trebing Tile.
The German American Social Club of Cape Coral is at 2101 Southwest Pine Island Road.
For information, call 283-1400.