Our German Heritage Preserved
It is referred to as "Arbeitsgemeinschaft" - loosely translated as a cooperative or umbrella group - and it is made up of representatives from the Waterloo region's five major German clubs. These organizations are key to ensuring the Gemuetlichkeit is always part of Oktoberfest.
Alpine Club of Kitchener-Waterloo
464 Maple Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario
Founded in 1953, the Alpine Club has been one of the five local German clubs maintaining and nurturing its traditions not only during Oktoberfest but throughout the year. Club members participate in special events including a farmer's ball, anniversary banquet, "Evening in the Alps", picnics, reunions, and of course selecting a Miss Alpine for the club. The club also makes a charitable donation to a community organization annually. It is said that the Alpine's apple strudel is famous far and wide, and it is certainly part of the gemuetlichkeit of the Oktoberfest festival that gives members their greatest joy. According to club president Bill Poje, the Alpine Club's (whose original members hailed from Gottschee in what is now south central Slovenia) strongest interests are promoting the ongoing culture that is the roots of the club. "Oktoberfest ties the various groups together and promotes community. It's a shot of adrenaline by which all the groups and clubs benefit. It's a showcase."
429 Ottawa Street South, Kitchener, Ontario
With origins dating to 1873 in Kitchener, the Concordia Club, as its name implies, is a harmony of members whose backgrounds are from all regions of German-speaking Europe. As a Centennial project, the club created a large Oktoberfest celebration in 1967. While other local clubs had smaller versions, Concordia developed Oktoberfest "on a major scale", says club past president Werner Schlueter, "so we rented what looked like a large circus tent and that was the launch of Oktoberfest." The considerable success of the event prompted the Kitchener Chamber of Commerce to pick up on the idea and the rest, as they say, is gemuetlichkeit history. Concordia has roughly 20 groups from choir, outdoor's groups, dance and bowling to tennis and soccer, and Oktoberfest helps Concordia run its cultural programs. Notes Schlueter, "Oktoberfest permits us to highlight our German culture and allows us to make contributions to the community. It also shows how we can all come together and have a good time as friends."
Hubertushaus: German-Canadian Hunting and Fishing Club
1605 Bleams Road, Mannheim, Ontario
With roots from virtually all regions of German-speaking Europe, the German-Canadian Hunting and Fishing Club was founded by a group of members with a special interest in hunting, wildlife and the natural environment at its club of 8-acres just west of Kitchener. During the great Bavarian festival, the organization is known as Hubertushaus. Founded in 1954, the club rolled out its Oktoberfest barrel in 1984. President Dave Mendler says that club members are dedicated to preserving the German language and maintaining German customs and traditions. That includes hunters' day, fish-fry events, Schlachtfest, Jagerball, and Bogenschuetzenfest - an archery competition and long-running Oktoberfest cultural event that takes place on the Thanksgiving weekend. Rollbraten-pork tenderloin barbeque on a rotisserie served with home-made spaetzle and homemade tortes top the list of delicacies that Hubertushaus is recognized for. "Whether it is the food, the dance, the music, the hospitality, Oktoberfest gives us an opportunity to show off our German culture," says Mendler.
1668 King Street East, Kitchener
"The Schwaben Club is a cultural Danube Swabian organization that has existed for over 80 years in this area," according to Past President George Kraehling. The club has had active theatre and German language groups since the early 1930's and has been involved with Oktoberfest since its inception, and its fold-dance groups will certainly be in action during the festival, notes Kraehling. With its varied heritage of peoples from along the Danube River and Yugoslovia, Hungary, Romania, and Germany, Schwaben Club members "have special traditions from these countries that we're dedicated to preserving and passing on to our children, the German language above all," Kraehling adds. Oktoberfest is always a busy and important time of the year for the club. "Last year, the festival organizers did a bang-up job, and as a result, attendance at our club grew. We see our role in Oktoberfest as being a good citizen and an outstanding and congenial host."
Dedicated to sharing German culture including the unique Transylvania Saxon heritage and language of the founding members, the Transylvania Club was formed in 1951, but its local roots date back to the 1930s. Members of the Transylvania Club are part of a number of groups including bowling, folk-dance, choirs and bands. Over the last years especially, the Transylvania Club sees Oktoberfest more and more as a proponent of its culture and a unified vehicle for promoting the values of all the founding clubs in a cooperative way. Since 2011, the Transylvania Club has partnered with the Stampede Corral, to create the unique experience of Transylvania Haus during Oktoberfest. "For the community, the five clubs, and for our club in particular, Oktoberfest is an important avenue to celebrate our unique cultures," says Alfred Lowrick, Transylvania Club Past President. "The Transylvania Club and its members provide a little bit of additional culture to the Canadian melting pot, if you will," Lowrick adds.
Dance Group Overview
The Alpine Dancers of the Alpine Club located in Kitchener, ON, have been performing German and Austrian Folkdances and Schuhplattlers since 1979. Although performing during Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is their busiest time of year, the Alpine Dancers entertain all year-round and can be seen on television, at conventions, celebrations, Christkindl markets, weddings and private functions throughout Canada and the USA.
Most notably, the Alpine Dancers performed at Ontario’s Celebration of the 50th Jubilee of Her Majesty’s Reign and had the opportunity and honour to meet Queen Elizabeth II. They were also featured in the Kitchener-Waterloo musical production of “The Sound of Music” in 2011.
They are thrilled to perform during Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. They are also available for events throughout the year.
Dance Group Overview
The Donau Dancers of the Schwaben Club located in Kitchener, ON, believe in exploring traditional folk dances and creating unique experiences using imagination and skill. Founded in 2001, the Donau Dancers were inspired by “Trachtengruppe”, a Schwaben Club Senior Dance group which performed from the 1970’s until the mid-1990’s.
During Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, the Donau Dancers thrill audiences at many venues with their unique dances and tracht and can also be seen participating in the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade. Throughout the year, they are busy travelling locally and internationally, entertaining at multicultural festivals and corporate functions.
The core focus of the group is on “DonauSchwabisch Tanze” and keeping the traditional dances alive.
K-W Schuhplattler and Folkdancers
Dance Group Overview
Representing three generations of dancers striving to continue a long-standing tradition of performing authentic Old World dances, the Schuhplattler and Folkdancers are a Bavarian and Austrian folk dance group from Kitchener-Waterloo.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Schuhplattler and Folkdancers includes members with varying degrees of experience in the art of entertaining crowds. The lederhosen and dirndls - worn by the group - are traditional clothing to the Alpine regions of Europe.
One of their most recognizable dances is the wood choppers dance, or “Holzhacker”.
Dance Group Overview
The Schwaben Dancers are one of four dance groups affiliated with the Schwaben Club, located in Kitchener, ON. They strive to preserve and share their Donauschwaben culture, heritage and traditions.
The Schwaben Dancers are well known for their selection of non-traditional dances. Having experimented with traditional dance steps to contemporary music, they have built a reputation of excellence with both German and non-German audiences.
The Schwaben Dancers attire reflect their Donauschwaben heritage. Instead of lederhosen, the men wear black vests with a line of buttons on the front, with the Schwaben Club crest over their heart. The ladies wear dirndls for more casual occassions and tracht for more formal events.
They have also been fortunate enough to travel to join other Schwaben Clubs for the annual Tag de Donauschwaben (Day of Donauschwaben and Dance Festival).
In 2012, the Schwaben Club in Kitchener, ON hosted Tag de Donauschwaben, opening their doors to more than 1,500 visitors.
The Schwaben Club Kindergruppe & Jugendgruppe
Dance Group Overview
The Kindergruppe and Jugendgruppe were created to introduce and teach young children to preserve their Schwaben culture and heritage by way of dance and traditional Bavarian attire.
Both the Kindergruppe and Jugendgruppe are active and perform regularly at the Schwaben Club and throughout Waterloo region.
They often perform at senior citizen homes, schools, churches, and other community events, such as the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival, The Museum and Christkindl Market.
Dance Group Overview
The Transylvania Dancers, affiliated with the Transylvania Club located in Kitchener, ON, are a group of very talented, young dancers who are proud to celebrate their heritage and culture. They have performed across Canada, the United States and Europe.
In 2012, they were crowned the “So You Think You Can Tanz” champions. The Transylvania Dancers are high-energy and are certain to have your guests talking about their dance moves.
The Transylvania Dancers love to perform.
Inn of Waterloo 475 King St N, Waterloo
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