New Milford’s Oktoberfest celebrates German tradition
NEW MILFORD — Rain and chilly weather didn’t dampen spirits at the 19th annual Oktoberfest celebration Sunday, which brought dozens of locals together for beer, bratwurst, the famed potato pancakes and other German traditions.
Dozens gathered under a large tent on the parking lot of the Arion Singing Society’s club on Danbury Road, where performers played traditional German music. The Alpenland Taenzer, a New Britain-based Alpine dancing group for children and adults, were expected to perform in the evening. Smaller tents were set up for food and vendors, including one that sold
traditional jewelry, bells and beer steins.
The Arion Singing Society’s annual event, which took place Saturday and Sunday, usually attracts about 2,400 people over the course of the weekend. Some are of German descent, while others come from all backgrounds.
“It really is family- based,” said Karla Roder, a longtime member of the Arion Singing Society. “The kids are having a grand time. They love to go on the dance floor.”
For many families, the event has become a tradition.
The Steiger family, of Sherman, has been going to the festival for 13 years. Nora Steiger, 16, is a senior at New Milford High School and, after attending the event for fun for most of her childhood, jumped at the opportunity to volunteer at Oktoberfest for the past four years through the school’s German-American Partnership program.
She said she has enjoyed getting to know not just members of the Arion Singing Society, but the performers, as well.
“We watched some of the dancers turn from girls to women, boys to men,” Steiger said.
Deidre Sommerer, too, has been going to the event for six to seven years, originally with her mother, who passed away two years ago. Sommerer, who is of German descent, said she loves watching the dancers.
“I love the tradition,” she said. “I love the fact that there’s a 6-year-old dancer that has that sense of community, that they’re still into the tradition.”
Weather and attendance were better on Saturday than early Sunday afternoon because one of the group’s members got married at the club before Saturday’s event, attracting 350 guests, Roder said.
This was perfect, she said, because the original Oktoberfest festival began in October 1810 to celebrate the matrimony of Princess Theresa, of Saxony-Hildburghausen, and the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig I. The festival is still held in Munich from the third weekend in September through the first Sunday in October.