11 August 2023

Lederhosen, beer and schnitzel! Oktoberfest set to bring best of German culture back to Canberra

| Claire Sams
Harmonie German Club CEO Paul Berger and Events Manager Neille Williams standing in the Harmonie German Club in Canberra

Harmonie German Club CEO Paul Berger and events manager Neille Williams are busy preparing to bring Oktoberfest back to its first home. Photo: Claire Sams.

On a quiet Narrabundah street, Australian and German flags fly side by side outside a building.

Known to locals as Harmonie German Club, it will again play host to Oktoberfest after years of the event being held off-site.

Chief executive officer Paul Berger is feeling excited and nervous at the prospect of Oktoberfest returning to where it began.

“Change always brings nerves, and we want to represent the club and represent Oktoberfest well,” he said.

“But more than that, we’re excited to bring it back home.”

Mr Berger said the change was largely due to logistical concerns.

“It’s been tough running this event off-site, particularly over the last few years, because it is such a huge infrastructure project,” he said.

“You have to basically build Oktoberfest from scratch. We can do a lot more and we can provide a lot more using our own equipment that we have on-site.”

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The fun will start with stand-alone O’zapft Is (the Tapping of the Keg) on 27 October.

“It will be a bit like a fundraising dinner or a gala dinner; you can buy a ticket or a table for this VIP night,” Mr Berger said.

“There will be some speeches, music and the German Ambassador will be here to help us with the tapping of the keg.”

Harmonie German Club events manager Neille Williams said an oompah band would be on hand to entertain those present.

“There’s going to be a lot of crowd participation and singing along, so it’s going to be a really great start to our German party.”

Following O’zapft Is, Oktoberfest 2023 will start the following day with a range of entertainment and German cultural games.

“We’re going to have less space this year,” Mr Berger said.

“We can’t fill it up with amusement rides or all the add-ons that we had at Queanbeyan [Showgrounds] or any of the other external venues. But we’re focusing more on the cultural entertainment and cultural activities of music, food and drink, dance and games.”

Attendees will be entertained by music and folk dance performances across several stages, taste imported beers and browse market stalls.

The competitive can watch (or participate) in a strongman competition, compete for the title of Miss Oktoberfest through heats of activities, try their skills at hooked finger wrestling, register for a beard competition and enter in the first sausage-eating competition.

Ms Williams said the cultural activities would give patrons a chance to experience elements of German culture, perhaps for the first time.

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While there are several prizes available over the two-day event, the fun won’t stop for the winner of a trip to Munich (yes, Munich in Germany).

“This is the first time we’ve given away a trip to Hofbräu Haus,” Mr Berger said.

“We’re partnering with the Hofbräu Haus in Munich, and they’re providing accommodation and a couple of visits to two of their venues.

“Along with that, we’ll give the winner a travel voucher and they can set up their own holiday and experience a free trip to Germany.”

All Oktoberfest ticket-holders will be in the running, with the winner drawn on Sunday afternoon (29 October).

Fans of German culture can register for pre-sale tickets online, which will go on sale on 18 August ahead of the main ticket release on 1 September.

O’zapft Is (the Tapping of the Keg) will be held on 27 October followed by Oktoberfest on 28 and 29 October.

Harmonie German Club is located at 49 Jerrabomberra Avenue in Narrabundah.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on Riotact.

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