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40th Anniversary

Get ready for six days of festivities at Oktoberfest

By AMY WOODS

Palms West Monthly, October 2013

Oktoberfest turns 40 this year — all the more reason to support the American German Club of the Palm Beaches and indulge in bratwurst, sauerkraut, schnitzel and — of course — a little beer. The Bavarian bash will unfold on the club's 10-acre campus in the party pavilion and under a giant tent Oct. 11 through 13 and Oct. 18 through 20. More than 25,000 will attend. "We're having a very exciting coming out this year for our 40th," said Kurt Freiter, club president. "Some things are the same, and some things are going to be new."

Freiter initiated a Miss Oktoberfest pageant for 2013, and crowned Jessica Wittenbrink, of Wellington, and runner-up Birte Keays, of Boynton Beach, as this year's ambassadors. The two women not only will promote the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the club but also will raise awareness about its cultural contributions.

 "We're about being a serious partner in the community," Freiter said. "We like to give back." Club members support other local heritage festivals, open their facility to nonprofit groups planning events and donate to 16 charities annually. Proceeds from tickets sales and monetary contributions at Oktoberfest will support those and other endeavors.

“Oktoberfest is not all about drinking beer,” Freiter said. "We're very much a family-based, family-oriented, cultural club." Freiter also boasts that a Huffington Post travel survey recently named Palm Beach County's Oktoberfest the 'second-largest in the nation’, following Cincinnati's. “We were kind of surprised, ourselves” Freiter said. "Right in our backyard.”

After the Christmas tree, Oktoberfest is the most popular German custom the country has exported, and the American German Club of the Palm Beaches has perfected it. What started as a Sunday-afternoon picnic has turned into one of the area’s oldest festivals.

Authentic German food, kegs of brew imported from Munich and (the crowd-pleasing bands: The Heldensteiner and Die Lustigen Bayern will anchor six days of festivities that include a Parade of Flags, an official keg-tapping ceremony and performances by the Palm Beach Pipes & Drums Corps.