Ninth Annual C-U Oktoberfest celebrates German culture

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Lillie Salas

The C-U community celebrate the ninth annual Oktoberfest on Saturday. The festival featured local brewers and traditional German food.

By Lillie Salas, Contributing Writer

Traditional German music was heard throughout the streets of downtown Champaign, filling the area with the smiling faces of people old and young. Local communities, students and visitors flooded into the corner of Neil and Washington streets for Champaign-Urbana’s ninth annual Oktoberfest.

The celebration was held on Sept. 24 and celebrations lasted from 3 to 10 p.m. People enjoyed beer from local brewers and traditional German food from food trucks. Other activities included a $5,000 cash raffle, a kid’s zone and a stein holding contest.

Mirko Pietrzak, junior in FAA, is an exchange student from Germany. He said the Saturday event was his first Oktoberfest in the U.S. Pietzak said he was satisfied by the quality of the beer and the community’s presence at the festival.

“It feels a bit like home, and that’s really nice,” Pietrzak said. “I love that you have the original Oktoberfest beer, and it tastes the same from home. I didn’t think that so many people had actual authentic, traditional clothing. So, I’m surprised by that.”

Besides the enjoyable activities, Champaign’s Oktoberfest serves as the largest annual fundraiser for the Developmental Services Center. The Developmental Services Center is a nonprofit organization that aims to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s good to come here and make that donation and be able to do that for those folks,” C-U resident Georgiana Quinn said. “It’s a great organization that needs to be supported.”

Past the food trucks and the tap beer from local breweries, there was a large seating area under a tent filled with people eating authentic foods and listening to live music.

Oktoberfest hosted the German polka band Die Musikmeisters, who has been performing at the festival for years. The band encouraged people to get up from their seats and dance. Their instruments could be heard from all sections of the celebration.

“I like the idea that you can come out with your friends, hang out with your friends and see people that you have not seen in forever because of COVID,” Quinn said. “That’s why people are out and about. The music is great, the atmosphere is great, it’s very fun.”

Oktoberfest was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and returned last year due to the decline of COVID-19 cases. Many community members are happy to see the celebration back, including Zev Steinrock, assistant professor in FAA.

“I haven’t actually been back to this Oktoberfest since COVID-19,” Steinrock said. “Nothing but happy memories back before then and it feels good to be back.”

People across the state came to C-U to experience the festivities. Danville resident Mike Eatton said he first heard about Oktoberfest on Facebook.

“I didn’t get a chance to go last year, so I made it a point to come this year,” Eatton said. “So far, I love it. The beer is good and right now I’m just tasting different beers and enjoying myself.”

As the evening carried on, the music, liveliness and festivities did not stop. Residents continued to indulge in every activity that the organizers offered. Oktoberfest is a night appreciated by many, such as Champaign-Urbana resident Betsy Waller.

“Oktoberfest is a great tradition and people should wear more dirndl and lederhosen,” Waller said. “It’s really fun to come out and support your community and your local businesses.”

 

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