Octoberfest/Halloween in Savannah

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  • September 30 – October 2 on River Street
    by Kelli Nottingham
  • Location: Rousakis Plaza







    It began as a King’s Wedding Feast hundreds of years ago in the southern German state of Bavaria, but the lasting thrill of Oktoberfest continues. One of the most famous and easily recognized cultural exports from Germany, this traditional festival is transported across the sea and throughout much of the world. Time and distance have dulled some imported festivals, but not Oktoberfest. . Many of the sights and sounds of Savannah’s Oktoberfest remain true to the original.

    In Munich, home of the original and largest Oktoberfest, hundreds of thousands of fun-lovers converge on massive circus tents housing huge Biergartens and brass bands. The gorgeous city is engulfed by the celebration, morphing into a playground dotted with amusement rides and outdoor restaurants. Revelers sway to the music, indulging in liter-sized glasses of some of the best Lager and Pilsner in the world. In many beer houses, this liter-sized glass of beer, called a Mass, is the smallest beer served! While in recent years, newer styles of music have been played at Oktoberfest, brass bands and folkloric clothing remain.

    While Savannah’s Oktoberfest is smaller than the Munich Oktoberfest, it shares the same traditions and sights. On the first weekend in October, the yellow, red, and black German flag and the white and blue Bavarian state flag flap in the air over Savannah. Dozens of booths line River Street, set up by vendors selling their wares. An incredible variety of items are available for purchase, ranging from handmade jewelry to traditional woodcrafts. Interspersed among these artful displays, booths offer delicious fare from Germany – Bratwurst, beer, pretzels, and Schnitzel. American favorites are also available.

    One highlight of the festival resonates throughout the riverfront,: the live music provided by the Channellheimers Oompah Band out of Augusta. Dressed in Lederhosen, the historical costume of Bavaria, the band performs both traditional and original songs. The lively strains of music encourage many bystanders to jump into the spirit and dance.

    Another event not to be missed is the Wiener dog race in Morrell Park. Many of these unique little dogs stroll around the grounds afterward, playing and socializing in true Oktoberfest style. A playground set up at the end of the festival provides opportunities for fun for younger revelers.

    Oktoberfest provides a taste of the Old World in the New, and the chance to celebrate simply because celebrations are fun. And FUN aplenty there will be! Live Entertainment featuring Headliner and Oompah Bands, Wachovia Kinder Village, German Food, Games, Fun, Regional Arts & Crafts, Fireworks on the River Friday night at 9:30pm, plus some of the best sausages in Savannah! -- Kelli Knotingham

    Halloween's origins go back to the 5th Century, in Celtic Ireland, when summer ended on October 31. That was the day when the New Year, Samhain, the Festival of Death, was celebrated.

    Many people believed that the disembodied spirits of those who had died in the prior year returned to earth searching for bodies to inhabit for the coming year. This was their only hope for salvation and after life. The laws of space and time were suspended on this day, so the spirit and living worlds could intermingle.

    However, the living didn?t want to be possessed. So they extinguished all the fires in their houses, to render them cold and unpleasant, and they would dress up in ghoulish costumes and tramp around boisterously trying to frighten the spirits away.

    The early Catholic Church accepted many of these Pagan practices, but added a religious twist, turning Nov. 1 into All Saints Day and honoring those saints who had died the year before. The night before became All Hallowed Evening, or Halloween. The night grew into a time of mischief and evil doings.

    When the Irish immigrated to the United States in the 1800?s, they brought with them a Halloween tradition of lighting candles in turnips to keep spirits at bay. Finding turnips in short supply in America, however, they began carving pumpkins and thus, the Jack-O-Lantern was born.











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