German-American Festival - Oregon

51.) German-American Festival – Oregon – August 27, 2010

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As I’ve said in the past, ethnic festivals often work toward the preservation of culture. The German-American Festival in Oregon is no different.
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It started in Toledo in 1966, when 7 Swiss and German societies came together to create an event for people of Swiss and German origin to unite and celebrate their heritage. Within a few months, the first festival was held at Raceway Park and it was a great success.

It was so successful, in fact, that the societies separately formed the German-American Festival (GAF) Society later that year and decided to make the festival an annual event.

In 2010, the 45th festival took place…

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…at the festival’s permanent location at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon (outside Toledo).

Owned by the GAF Society, they’ve made Oak Shade Grove into a type of German village…
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…with German-like building facades…

…while integrating the natural surroundings to set the ambiance for the bier gartens…

…and various other picnic areas.

In fact, the modern rides…
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…which weren’t so German in appearance…

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…were hidden by both the trees and buildings so as not to break the mood…

…although it was worth checking out for this attraction alone.

Click HERE to open the video in a new window.

As one would expect, scattered on the grounds, there was a ton of German food…
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…to take home…


…or eat there…

…with some great German vendors…

…even if you had to go through the food ticket system to buy it all.

My mom and I shared…
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…a Reuben…
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…a wonderful ham hock dinner…
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…a beer…
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…a nice serving of Toft’s pumpkin pie ice cream.
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…and sauerkraut balls with Tiger sauce dressing.

Of course the order may have been slightly different.

Apart from the bier gartens and various picnic areas, there was a great hall or festival tent…
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…which was decorated with plenty of German flags…

…some of which I really liked.
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But there was also a stage in the main hall…
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…with other stages elsewhere on the grounds, filling the air with German music.

And when people weren’t dancing or eating, they were…
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…shopping German…

(Was ist das?)



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…dressing German…

…and drinking German, whether by the glass…

…pitcher…

…stein (which you’ll need in the Masskrugstemmen, or stein-lifting competition)…

…or das boot (you know I had to).

In fact, beer almost became a life force at the German-American Festival. People simply lounged about in groups with their beer with no sense of hurry. In this sense, it was beautiful.
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But, with any crowd that consumes 650 barrels of beer, 50 cases of wine and 40 cases of liquer and spirits in a given year (as these festival goers did in 2009), there are potential dangers involved – like getting hit by projectile cream-puff-and-beer vomit or getting kissed by someone’s fist after getting caught in his/her lederhosen.

Fortunately I didn’t experience these things, but it does bring me to talk about the festival mascots…

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…Mitzi and Moritz.
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Interestingly enough, while the idea to make the characters raccoons comes from Oregon’s 50th Anniversary celebration, they were named after the well-known evil duo in German literature…
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Max and Moritz.

Max and Moritz are two mischievous kids who play tricks on people until they are eventually trapped in a bag of seed, milled down into feed and eaten by ducks.

These kids are not missed in their disappearance, by the way. That’s how bad they were.

Fortunately, this kid in the Import Haus building was well-attended to before such a disappearance (or crawl-away) could occur.

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(Click HERE for a video of his short adventure.)

But what of the older festival goers who didn’t bring their parents to keep them out of trouble? As they continued drinking their boots and loosening their lederhosen, I’m sure they began to feel the spirits of Max and Moritz telling them what to do.

Fortunately, the festival took those extra precautions…

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…and I’m sure people were a little more responsible as a result.
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