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Storm doesn’t stop the fun at Oktoberfest

By Staff | Oct 22, 2019

When Tom Isham arrived at the German-American Social Club early Saturday morning to prepare for the second day of Oktoberfest, he saw what looked like a war zone.

Chairs were toppled, tents knocked over, the result of a severe weather event that included a tornado just a few miles away.

“We spent three or four hours changing tents, straightening them out and resecuring them. The sun came out and we’re having a good day,” said Isham, co-chairman of Oktoberfest.

The 34th Oktoberfest was able to dodge the weather bullet the first weekend with little more than a few showers and overcast skies for much of the rest of the weekend, leading to a successful first weekend.

People ate brats, drank German beer, wore their best German outfits and listened to some of the best music direct from Germany, happily doing the chicken dance and chanting “ziggy zaggy, ziggy zaggy, oi oi oi” more times than you can count.

“We were a little worried this morning about the weather, now that it’s clear, the people are coming in and everything is going according to schedule, and we’re hoping for a very successful Oktoberfest and that everyone has a lot of fun,” said co-chair Teresa Kohl.

The event kicked off Friday evening with the grand opening parade, followed by hours of entertaining German music from Zimmerer Kapelle and Die Flotten Oberkrainer until midnight in the big tent.

Once the skies cleared Saturday, Hafenkapelle and Andorfer Plattier joined them in the big tent, while also playing in the Bavarian Garden with the Manni Daum Trio and the Pitfull of Blues band for those looking for something other than German music.

Also performing were the Lee County Pipes and Drums and the Keilyn Celtic Dancers.

Meanwhile, Ms. Oktoberfest, Ashley Jones, was out meeting and greeting visitors and having a blast doing it.

“It’s been a great turnout. The beer is good the food is good and I’ve been making sure everyone is having a great time, being safe and having fun,” Jones said. “People are taking pictures of me and socializing and I love talking with everyone.”

If it seems amazing how the GASC was able to get such big Oktoberfest bands from Germany during Oktoberfest, it’s because in Germany Oktoberfest actually starts in September and runs to the first weekend in October.

This allows bands to come to America to perform and some of the biggest such events in the country. With this one attracting up to 40,000 people throughout the two weekends, this qualifies.

Andreas Peske came all the way from Atlanta to be at the Cape Coral event.

“I come to celebrate the culture and to be in the atmosphere. I really like the music and shows this year,” Peske said. “It’s the hospitality of people hanging out.

“The atmosphere is fantastic, the people dress up, they love the food and the beer,” added Karen Schmidt, Andreas’ friend. “It’s a great experience for everyone. We have things for the children, teenagers and a trolley ride for everyone.”

Schmidt said she hoped everyone learned about the social impact of Oktoberfest.

“We want people to understand the culture of Bavarian people. Different people come together at the beer garden and the big tent, share where they’re from, the beer they like,” Schmidt said.

Scarlett Conrad, Ms. Oktoberfest 2016, was dressed to the nines with Fritz Pohler, her biggest fan. Conrad said she loves how welcoming it is, even after her reign ended.

“I love being here and seeing my family and friends, getting to dress up. Every day I have a different outfit. That’s what we girls do,” Conrad said. “My outfit comes directly from Germany and we like dressing up for this like we do for Halloween.”

Pohler, who said he has been to nearly every Oktoberfest here, as well as a few in Munich, has seen how the event has grown over the years.

“Every year this gets bigger and more organized. Now you know pretty much where everything is, from the gifts to the fancy steins and lederhosen,” Pohler said. “And I get to hang out with Ms. Oktoberfest.