Oktoberfest offers lots that's new but celebrates a long history
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, October 18, 2012
10/18/12 at 3:12 AM
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John Toschik has been to every Oktoberfest since the beginning.
That's probably not surprising, considering Toschik's status as historian for the annual Bavarian bash, which returns Thursday through Sunday at River West Festival Park, 2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Toschik, who was among the first officers and board of the German-American Society of Tulsa in 1980, was the official historian until four or five years ago.
"Like all other things, some things must come to an end, sooner or later," said Toschik, who retired. For some reason, though, the position was never filled, so he continues keeping tabs on the goings-on at Oktoberfest.
He compiled information for the society's website, including a 1979 newspaper clipping by Tulsa Tribune scribe Ellis Widner, who wrote about everything that first festival's oompah band and a mandolin group scheduled for the main stage.
Folk singers, including Jane Duenner, were to perform that Saturday, as were the Senior Citizens Band, the Pintaphonic Winds from the Tulsa Philharmonic, and the Tulsa Music Association's first showcase of acoustic music acts, which included Janet Rutland.
The music is always Toschik's favorite part. Since almost the very beginning of the festival, Tulsa's event has been bringing traditional German bands to play traditional German, Oktoberfest music. It's what makes the festival, Toschik said.
When it first started, Oktoberfest was held on the east bank of the Arkansas River, Toschik recalled. It moved each year through the mid-'80s, "and that made things very tough," Toschik said, alluding to the logistics of mapping out the festival on a different piece of land each year.
Finally, it bounced back to the west side of the Arkansas, to its current home at River West Festival Park, 2100 S. Jackson Ave. Consistency didn't rule out Mother Nature's whims, however, as Toschik remembers "Dust Fest."
"The wind was blowing so hard, and there was no ground cover, so dirt was flying everywhere," said Toschik, who also remembers "Mud Fest - I think that is self-explanatory."
More than 30 years later, Toschik still attends, as he will this week, if only "on a rather limited basis." As a member of the German-American Society, he'll work a shift Friday in one of the food booths. He'll also have video equipment along with him to document various happenings - "not like in the past, but a little bit."
For more history on Oktoberfest, as well as event details, visit tulsaworld.com/oktoberfesthistory
Oktoberfest will feature three authentic German bands from Deutschland: Kasplattnrocker, Die Bayern Stuermer and Sepp Diepolder.
For the most part, the Lufthansa BierGarten features these authentic German bands and music, according to the festival's website.
Ess Zelt, Bier Stube and Keller are all a mixture of more German bands, country-Western artists, rock and dance. And find more family-friendly activities in the Jugendzelt tent, including magic, science and clowns.
For full schedules of various acts and entertainment, visit tulsaworld.com/oktoberfest
This year's Oktoberfest has brought Tonja Pitzer close to tears - in a good way.
It's been a labor of love, from detailed planning to long man hours - including the efforts of about 2,000 volunteers, Pitzer said - to open the annual German extravaganza Thursday through Sunday, featuring tried-and-true highlights from years past to new activities for all ages.
Among the new stuff is free shuttle service throughout the festival, to and from four shuttle locations: Hyatt Regency and Holiday Inn City Central hotels, both downtown; Trade Winds hotel at I-44 and Harvard Avenue; and Fassler Hall in the Blue Dome District.
The shuttle drops riders off at the gate, energy you can save to participate in some of the new competitive events. Following the 6 p.m. Thursday Lederhosen Run, which features a one-mile fun run and four-mile run, will be the new Cornhole Competition in the Keller Courtyard at 7 p.m. More than 30 teams can compete to be named "Oktoberfest Cornhole Champion" in a double-elimination play-off style match.
"It's like a beanbag toss," Pitzer explained.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the Stein Carry in Bier Stube will test how many filled steins you can carry from point A to point B without spilling any, Pitzer said. Enter the competition at the KRMG tent onsite.
On Saturday, the annual McNellie's Bier Barrel Race starts rolling at 1 p.m., rain or shine, in the Fassler Hall Stammtisch. Also, the Strong Stein competitions has contestants see how long they can hold a pitcher of beer - and you get to keep the beer in the pitcher.
"Some people have done this for 25 minutes before," Pitzer said.
Sunday brings back the fifth annual Running of the Wieners, presented by Oklahoma Veterinarian Specialists, at 1 p.m. in the open area east of the Lufthansa BierGarten.
As for food, all your German favorites are still available, and, for the first time, a gluten-free adult beverage is available.
"People have been just screaming for it," Pitzer said. So ask about the Crispin Natural Hard Apple Ciders at Ess Zelt.
Also, what with it being fall break for many schools, ask about the all-ride wristband passes available only noon-6 p.m. Friday for $15, Pitzer said.
For more, including competition fees and registration, check out tulsaworld.com/oktoberfest
What: Annual German-themed festival,
with food, beer and entertainment
When: Hours are 5-11 p.m. Thursday, 11
a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday
Where: River West Festival Park, 2100 S.
Admission: $6, payable at gate via cash or
credit card; children 12 and younger, free.
Original Print Headline: Time to party Bavarian style
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
Raise your stein, it's time for Oktoberfest. Leon Boggs, president of the German American Society, dons his lederhosen in preparation. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
Stephanie Ballard sips on beer in the midway during Oktoberfest 2011. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World file