“It’s a German Theme park!” is the best way to describe Milwaukee’s giant Germanfest. Located on the Lake Michigan shoreline, it’s non-stop entertainment filled with great food and drink.
On Thursday night, the Milwaukee area experienced a deluge of rain which flooded big parts of the city and big parts of the fest grounds. In fact, at least some of the acts were unable to perform. We arrived on Friday night and spent most of our time at the Airtrans Airway stage watching the Band, “Biba und Die Butzemänner.” Their first set didn’t wow us, but they gradually built up to the songs we known and love and it wasn’t long before the tables were being danced upon! With us that evening were Vonia, Mark & Mary Beth, Daniel/Wolfgang, Chuck and Cindy, Chris K and his family, Lenny and Danielle, and Christina, Lana, and son Stuart and his girlfriend. Chuck D also ran into the guys from Talisman – the band that performed twice in Ironwood, including Stuart’s Graduation party. Of course our young friend, Stefan of Boebing, was with us too as the guest of honor. And later as I was dancing on the table, Don and Larrissa saw me and spent a few hours with us as well.
On Saturday, Stefan and I picked up Daniel and met up with the Cincinnati group at the Old German Beerhall. When you come in wearing Tracht, the beer is half price – a really great deal. By noon, the whole back of the place was filled up and lots of spontaneous signing and dancing ensued.
Leaving there, Stefan, Daniel and I went back to the fest grounds for the parade. Pommerscher Verein, Sudetendeutscher Verein were some of the more unusual groups. Of course, the larger Turner Verein, Donauschwaben, Rheinischer Verein, etc were all represented. Even some of our Cincinnati friends marched. Stefan was pretty popular with the Trachtler Clubs as he gave them all a good Bavarian Yodel as they passed by.
After the parade, we enjoyed a schnitzel dinner and then watched the Alte Kameraden – a large brass band from Milwaukee. We really enjoyed the fellow who plays the anvil and their rendition of Gloria is great: They scatter amoung the crowd and belt out the tune in 3-D sound.
But the highlight was the young lady singing, “Hoerst du die Glocken laeuten?” She has some amazing talent and really wowed us with her vocals. A lot of our group showed up during this set and we all sat in the hot sun together, sweating and enjoying our beer.
We packed up and moved on to listen to Dorf Kapelle – another great community ground from near Milwaukee. Dorf Kapelle always brings in a crowd, but sine this stage offers a roof to the audience, it was really packed. We found a few seats on the left side and filtered in there. Gradually, we took over the entire row and lots of friends of Chris K and Mark P showed up.And we were treated to seeing Rich and Lorraine from Chicago – members of our first official Oktoberfest Tour. It was fun to catch up with them again. After Dorf Kapelle, we listened to Phenix. They played a more of the Oktoberfest Party music and drew in a huge crowd. The fireworks fired off around 10 PM and we had a great view from the shoreline of Lake Michigan. After the fireworks the crowd thinned a bit more and we settled in for the duration. After we convinced Daniel/Wolfgang it was time to go, we headed for the parking lot. Vonia was quite annoyed with the two of us when we couldn’t quite figure out where we left the car! Well, we started at 11:00 Am and it was now after midnight!
Stefan and Daniel spent most of their time patrolling the fest grounds. To stretch my legs and get a few laughs, a went and found them twice. Sure enough, Daniel was engaged in telling tall stories to unsuspecting random people. It was hilarious to watch him interact with people and Stefan had a great time seeing Wolfgang in action.
It was an awesome time and we got to see bunches of our old friends. Sadly, we also said good-bye to Stefan. We’ll miss him as he starts a new chapter of his USA trip – he’s now in Cincinnati for about a week before he goes onto Jersey with Bill.