Unpack your lederhosen and dirndls and brush up on your Oompah steps. If it’s the first Friday in October, it must be Oktoberfest, which is sponsored by the Punta Gorda Downtown Merchants Association.
Admission is free to the Oct. 5 fest, which takes place in front of the Historic Courthouse on Taylor Street and runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Brats and wursts, sauerkrauts, schnitzels and strudels will be just some of the authentic German food vendors will have for sale. A beer and wine garden will feature German and domestic wines, schnapps, and German and domestic beer.
“Last year, we included authentic German food vendors and it was a hit, so we’re doing that again this year,” said Jerry Presseller, a member of the Downtown Merchants Association.
When the group started Oktoberfest in 2008, the downtown merchants supplied all the food. The fest has grown every year, with over 2,000 people in attendance in 2011, so it made sense to expand the vendors.
Taylor Street is closed off for the duration of the event, giving ample room for music, merriment, eating and strolling. Parking is available at the Herald Court Parking Garage.
An accordion player will perform authentic German music in the food court. There will be dancing in the streets, pony rides for kids, the Naples Mercedes Antique Car Club, and live music performances by The Dynamic Duo of Peter and Edith Mueller, from Germany.
According to ofest.com, the first Oktoberfest was held over 200 years
ago in Munich, Germany, in 1810 to celebrate the Oct. 12 marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxon-Hildburghausen.
The fest was held in front of the city gates and lasted for five days. A horse race was the main entertainment that year, along with wheelbarrow and sack races. In later years, an agricultural show, a carousel and other amusements were added.
Through the years, “only wars and cholera” kept the celebration from being held.
Oktoberfest was moved to late September and early October to take advantage of better weather. Cities worldwide have picked up the Oktoberfest tradition ever since.
There’s no need to travel to Germany, though, when the authentic German vendors, musicians and dancers are right here in Punta Gorda. Save Oct. 5 for German food and festivities. For more information, go to www.puntagordachamber.com.