German Fest

Click the image to learn more. Musicians dressed in traditional German garb perform at German Fest in 2007.

German Fest, one of many ethnic celebrations in Milwaukee, honors the city’s rich German cultural heritage. When then-Milwaukee mayor Henry Maier challenged the city’s local German groups to create a German gathering akin to other ethnic festivals being organized at the time, they responded by forming German Fest.[1] Their primary goal was to promote German culture, customs, and heritage.[2] The first festival was organized in 1981. After more than 30 years, it continues to draw crowds from around the world.[3] Authentic German food, costumes, music, and dancing demonstrations are featured each year; and the cultural heritage tent provides visitors with varying displays of German traditions and customs.[4]

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Harald D. Pitz, “Behind the Scenes at German Fest,” German-American Journal 56, no. 3 (June/July 2008): 13. The group was comprised of Walter Geissler, President of the German American National Congress, and a number of other leaders from German-American societies, including Rolf Hoffman, Kaspar Peter, Tony Saladi, and Marianne Trivalos. The local German-American groups are largely responsible for orchestrating the annual event, with over 3,000 volunteers staffing booths, serving food and alcohol, and providing the entertainment.
  2. ^ Steve Quanrud, “1st German Fest Dedicated to Friendship, Fun, Fellowship,” The Milwaukee Sentinel, July 31, 1981, 15-16.
  3. ^ Jay Joslyn, “Fests Flourish as They Unite Groups,” The Milwaukee Sentinel, June 4, 1992, 1. Reports vary, but festival attendance is often estimated anywhere between 100,000 and 125,000. Organizers claim that it is the largest three-day festival of its kind in North America. Katherine M. Skiba, “Wisconsin’s Deep German, Polish Roots Still Growing—Influences of State’s Two Largest Ethnic Groups Can Be Felt throughout Culture and Business Both Here and Abroad,” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 16, 1999, 1.
  4. ^ Heidi F. Schudrowitz, “German Fest Insists on Authenticity,” The Milwaukee Sentinel, July 29, 1994, 8E. Over the years, the cultural themes have included German unification, German language and culture tests, genealogy, German Christmas customs, a look at 15th century German culture, German-born fairytales, and German innovations and contributions to technology. See Celeste Williams, “Prosit! Germans Will Toast Heritage, History at Festival; Unification Imparts Special Meaning to the 11th German Fest,” The Milwaukee Journal, July 25, 1991, 5; Tom Strini, “Features,” The Milwaukee Journal, July 28, 1994, 1D; Jackie Loohauis, “At German Fest, You Can Take Trip to Time of Castles, Knights; Medieval Times Will Get Spotlight During 15th Anniversary of Event,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 28, 1995, 16; Nancy Trueblood, “Celebration Known for Gemuetlichkeit Unwraps Christmas in July—Something to Yodel about,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 22, 1999, 1; Kathy Flanigan, “German Fest,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 27, 2000, 1; Jan Uebelherr, “Ingenuity That Feeds the Mind, and Belly,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 23, 1997, E.


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