Like St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone seems to be Irish, during the fall, more people tend to claim their German ancestry — thanks to Oktoberfest events happening in communities across the globe, including Frederick.
Most Oktoberfests promise to satisfy thirsty patrons, air old-time drinking songs, and provide great food.
Frederick’s Oktoberfest, on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the Frederick Fairgrounds, is no different.
And it has something special to celebrate this year: its 25th anniversary.
Frederick Oktoberfest was originally organized by Community Living, and now the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek, with support from the Rotary Club of Southern Frederick County and Smoketown (Brunswick) Rotary, organize the event.
Event proceeds are donated back to several local nonprofit organizations and causes.
“People can come out and eat, drink, and enjoy music knowing that proceeds benefit the community,” said Rotary Club of Carroll Creek member Jeff Griffin, who is chairman of this year’s event.
Griffin anticipates at least $65,000 to $70,000 to be distributed this year.
Frederick’s Oktoberfest is particularly notable because of our local German heritage that has existed since before the city’s founding. John Thomas Schley, from Mörzheim, Germany, was one of Frederick’s earliest European settlers to arrive here in 1745. He built what is believed to be the first house in the city, located at the intersection of East Patrick Street and Maxwell Avenue. He was considered a prominent member of the new town, keeping a tavern, serving as a schoolmaster and leading the Reformed Church, which is the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ in downtown Frederick today.
Then, there is the Brunner family, from Schifferstadt, Germany, who came to Frederick County around 1736 and farmed over 300 acres west of town. In 1758, the second generation of the family built a stone house along Carroll Creek that still stands today and is appropriately named Schifferstadt.
The City of Frederick has sister city relationships with both Morzheim and Schifferstadt.
German influences can be found throughout the festival. There will be four beer stations featuring local craft beers from Brewers Alley, Smoketown Brewery and Flying Dog Brewery. Of course, there will be some international offerings as well, including the Spaten and Hofbrauhaus selections from Germany. Steins will be for sale, or attendees can bring their own.
Food offerings will include schnitzel, brats, sauerkraut, red cabbage, hot German potato salad, pretzels and streudel. Students from the FCC Hospitality, Culinary, and Tourism Institute are heavily involved in the planning, preparation and service at the event.
Attendees can eat inside, outside in tents or in the sunshine.
In addition to the food and beverages available, there will be lots of entertainment and other activities.
“The event is back to what it was like before the pandemic,” Griffin said.
Music will be offered all day on indoor and outdoor stages with the Dan McGuire Band and Mike and The Continentals, as well as some newcomers to the festival.
Friday, which is for adults only, runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Festivities will officially get underway at 6:30 p.m. that day with a keg tapping ceremony with local elected officials and other dignitaries.
Saturday, the festival runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to the musical groups, there will also be a strong person contest and a yodeling competition. A sports tent with televisions will be onsite for those not wanting to miss their favorite college football games and maybe even a soccer match or two. Kids activities will be available on Saturday, and Heritage Frederick will lead some German heritage activities.
A few additional vendors will be set up, including one selling German-roasted nuts, a chainsaw artist and an alpaca farm.
The event is held rain or shine as activities are held indoors and most outdoor festivities are under tents. Admission rates vary. But if you wear an authentic Dirndl or Lederhosen, your admission is free. Volunteers also get free entry. “Around 400 volunteers are needed to run this event. This is the largest event for the Rotary Club and is annual gathering for the community,” Griffin said. For more information, visit frederickoktoberfest.org. Prost!