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Column: A history lesson on Oktoberfest

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The Irish celebrate St Patrick's Day on March 17 but the Germans celebrate Octoberfest with festivals that run from  Sept. 17  through Oct. 7 every year.

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Oktoberfest, as it was spelled, started in 1810 as a regional celebration in Munich after the marriage of Prince Ludweg. It has grown to one of the largest festivals around the world. Hungry, thirsty hordes of merrymakers descend on Munich, Bavaria's capital, every year. Fourteen large tents that can accommodate 100,000 people and 20 smaller tents that seat 10,000 people are scattered throughout the fairgrounds. In 2010 more than 6 million guests came to Munich to join the festivities. Beers from six local breweries are served by 1,600 servers. Officials suggest people arrive by 11 a.m. to get a place to sit in one of the tents. The large tents serve beer while the smaller tents serve food. 

The beer that is served is a strong beer. Since food and beer is served where you are sitting guests are warned to take it easy as many arrive at 11 and stay all day.

Bands from around the world play continuous "oompah" music. Guests can dance or sit back to enjoy the music. Specialty shops offer gnomes, collectable dolls, fudge and many other items of the event.

I'm sure many of our readers remember when the Octoberfest was held at the Old Met Stadium in Bloomington and our own Doc Holiday was one of the chairmen. There were Polka Bands that played all day, hundreds of food vendors that cooked and served German food, tents set up with beautiful displays of items for sale and of course the beer tents with beer from our local breweries. It was a family event with fun things for the children to see or participate in.

This year there is a two-day festival Oct. 7 and 8 at the Klub Haus, 1079 Rice Street in

St. Paul. They too will feature authentic German food, beer, concerts and lots of dancing to the polka bands.  This is a family event so include the children.

New Ulm has a pair of weekend celebrations Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 7 and 8. Visitors are welcome to join and celebrate the German heritage so rich in New Ulm with great German food, Schell's beer products and gift and craft shops. There will be music by the Concord Singers, the German Brass Band and polka bands from across the area will provide music for dancing or if you prefer kick back and just enjoy listening.

The weatherman promises a nice weekend, so gather you family and enjoy one of the many Octoberfest celebrations in the area. If you can't get to one maybe you can have one in your own backyard with polka music, brats, maybe a little refreshments.  You will be celebrating with millions of people around the world.

German potato salad

4 pounds of red potatoes, cut in half and boiled

1 pound bacon cut in one half inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons celery seed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Drain potatoes when cooked. Cool and cut in half-inch cubes. Cook bacon and onion in skillet until fat from bacon is removed and onions are tender but not brown. Stir in flour, sugar and salt with bacon and onion.

Cook one minute and pour in vinegar. Simmer for five minutes until slightly thick.  Pour in potatoes and stir gently to combine. Toss with celery seed and parsley. Yield: 6 servings

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