May 25th, 2024

Oktoberfest a toast to good cheer and German beer


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - LETHBRIDGE HERALD on November 10, 2021.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Alpen Schatz plays for the crowd during the 2021 Lethbridge Oktoberfest over the past weekend at Exhibition Park.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Oktoberfest gave revelers an opportunity to hoist their steins once again and celebrate the traditional German beer festival over the past weekend.
“It’s great to be back this year after missing last year, obviously for good reasons, with COVID going on,” said Jerry Firth, Oktoberfest organizer.
The first Oktoberfest took place in 2013 at Festival Square in downtown, where it stayed for about three years.
“It then moved to Galt Gardens as it expanded quite a bit, and it was there for about two or three years, but because is the last weekend in September, weather has always been a little contentious,” said Firth.
Firth added that the decision was made a few years ago to move it indoors, and the Exhibition Park was the chosen venue as it big enough to hold the event.
“We used to do it in the Main Pavilion, but with that pavilion not being open, we decided to do it on this side (north side pavilion),” said Firth.
The festival was initially set to take place in September, but due to COVID restriction had to be postponed to November, when they were able to offer the festival once again by taking advantage of the restriction exemption program to offer festival goers a safe place to celebrate.
“That is something that the Exhibition Park is a requirement on their behalf, so as an event at the Exhibition, that is something we are doing at the doors, but we would have done it on our own anyways, as it is something that is very important,” said Firth. “We want to make sure that is a fun environment, but that is also a safe environment for everyone.”
People were required to wear masks while they attended, unless they were drinking or eating.
“For the most part we wouldn’t have people with masks, but all of the staff would have their masks on during their duration that they are working,” said Firth.
Firth added that they decided to go ahead this year with the festival as long as we had those safety measures in place.
“We need to give people that outlet. The weather is getting a little bit colder and I think people still want to be out of their house so this gives them an opportunity to do that,” said Firth.
He also added that it is important to be able to do cultural sharing in Lethbridge, sharing cultural heritage and the different ways that people express themselves.
“Oktoberfest is a German festival originated from Munich, Germany and there is a lot of people with German ancestry in Lethbridge, and we tend to get them out here every year, they really have a good time. I mean who doesn’t love beer, I mean I know not everyone does, but is just a great opportunity for people to come and socialize with each other. And I think that is important at this time,” said Firth.
Even though they were able to offer German beer to everyone interested, due to COVID restrictions, their bar service ended at 10 p.m.
And for those interested in non-alcoholic beverages Solstice Juice was there as a vendor, and food vendors offered water and pop.
There was two vendors offering German style food and the Exhibition Park was selling burgers and fries for those who were not as familiar with German cuisine.
One of the German food vendors was Model T Smokies, offering Bratwurst, Schnitzel dinners and German smokies.
“This is our fourth year…It’s really nice to be back here,” said William Firth, owner of Model T Smokies.
Those in attendance were able to enjoy the German music produced by Alpen Schatz, a German band that has been a part of the festival since the very beginning. They have traveled from Medicine Hat to entrained the crowds for the seven festivals that have taken place in Lethbridge.
And just like the loyal band, some Lethbridge residents have not missed one festival yet. Valerie Brown has been attending the festival since it was offered at Festival Square in downtown Lethbridge eight years ago.
“When it was outside, everyone was so close knit, and everyone got to know each other and everyone just got to talk to everyone, but with it being in such a big group more people can come in,” said Brown.
Brown added that the things she looks forward the most every year are the bratwurst, the sauerkraut and the beer.

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