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.
464 Maple Avenue, Kitchener, Ontarioï¿½
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."
1605 Bleams Road, Manheim, 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 home-made 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, Kitchenerï¿½
"The Schwaben Club is a cultural Danube Swabian organization that has existed for over 80 years in this area," according to 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 President for the past nine years. "The Transylvania Club and its members provide a little bit of additional culture to the Canadian melting pot, if you will," Lowrick adds.