Oktoberfest Returns to BGSU

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Campus News

Ben Cook | Reporter

Bowling Green State University is celebrating Oktoberfest on Thursday, Oct. 20 in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Bowen Thompson Student Union. 

The event will last from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with free admission to all students. Discounted tickets will be available for community members through the BGSU German Club Facebook Page or EventBrite.com, and tickets at the door cost $20.

The most recent Oktoberfest celebration occurred in 2019, just months before COVID-19 shut down the campus and restricted social gatherings. BGSU’s German Club has worked hard to put together a classic German buffet, collaborate with musicians and make sure that Oktoberfest comes back, as if it hadn’t ever stopped.

The first Oktoberfest at BGSU was hosted off-campus, nearly 25 years ago and made a point serve no beer during the events. However, after the event was criticized due to a lack of alcohol, it was moved on-campus so BGSU Dining could be responsible for beer sales. From there, BGSU Oktoberfest has looked different throughout the years.

For several years, BGSU’s German Club hosted a “Tejano Oktoberfest” in collaboration with the Latino Student Union; this was a nod to the fact that Tejano music is a combination of Latinx and German immigrant traditions. 

At another point in time, BGSU hosted popular polka stars such as the band Squeezebox, with International Polka Hall of Famer Mollie B. Having famous polka musicians drew in people from beyond BGSU but ultimately working with such a big star presented scheduling challenges. 

One of the people most excited for the university’s Oktoberfest is Dr. Kristie Foel l, an associate professor of German at BGSU. She has had a critical role in the planning and execution of this year’s Oktoberfest and has made a great effort to capture the authenticity of the celebration.

“The music, dancing, costumes and food will be very authentic. You can expect to see a number of our students, as well as some community members, wearing the traditional Tracht-Dirndl for women and Lederhosen for men. Dirndls are tailor-made dresses fashioned for women that are meant to last a lifetime, while Lederhosen, otherwise called leather pants, are made to be adjustable and durable for long-term wear,” Foell said.

Another aspect to BGSU’s Oktoberfest is the dancing and the music within the festivities. Guests can learn how to dance to the polka, while listening to the music of Aaron Dussing and the Polka Revolution. Additionally, Siebenbürger Sachsen, a traditional German dance group, will perform for viewing pleasure.

It will be $5 for guests to eat from an authentic German buffet including Chef Jeremy’s handmade bratwurst, along with traditional German foods like sauerkraut, potato salad, pretzels, soft drinks and beer for those over the age of 21.

There are some differences between the Oktoberfest at BGSU and the traditional Oktoberfest that takes place in Germany. Foell is a seasoned resident and visitor of both Germany and Austria, and can highlight the differences between the two with ease.

“The biggest difference is the size. The Munich Oktoberfest attracts more than 5 million visitors a year and runs for over two weeks, while ours is just four hours long and has a much smaller number of visitors. The other big difference is that the Munich Oktoberfest includes a 4-mile parade, with draft horses pulling carriages and large barrels of beer, with more emphasis on drinking,” Foell said.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy the festivities this upcoming Thursday. Learn more about new traditions, try new food and explore new music courtesy of BGSU and the BGSU German Club.