Festivity seekers walked toward the warmly lit entryway of the Anderson-Price Memorial building as the faint sound of polka music drifted toward the courtyard, marking Oktoberfest's return to Ormond Beach on Saturday, Oct. 16.
The Bavarians, an Orlando-based polka band, played a variety of music to a capacity crowd who sat at rows of tables reminiscent of the original German festival. Traditional blue and white decorations hung from the ceiling as dancers wearing lederhosen and dirndls gathered intermittently to polka, line dance and form a conga line midway through the celebration.
While visiting a cousin in Germany five years ago, Oktoberfest attendee Marty Price bought his lederhosen directly from the source.
“I had written a book in English and German so we went to visit my partner’s cousin in Munich,” he said. “I was going to buy my lederhosen directly from the Hofbräuhaus but his daughter was working at a souvenir shop and I got it at a discount. I’m wearing discounted lederhosen.”
To Better Days Wine Bar and Bistro’s owner Carlos Soldevilla catered the event and served the hungry revelers traditional German fare starters of pretzel bites with beer cheese dip, smoked fish dip, cucumber salad and braised red cabbage. Entrees included bratkartoffeln, chicken schnitzel, bratwurst and spaetzle all served with their own unique gravy. The bistro will also have a food truck up and running by the end of the month.
In 1810, Oktoberfest was the brainchild of Andreas Michael Dall’Armi, a Bavarian national guardsman who offered a unique idea to celebrate the crown prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen’s wedding, according to Oktoberfest.de, the official German website for the festival. Munich was drenched in lights for the occasion as party goers enjoyed feasts and the newlyweds were honored with a horse race. As time went on, the event grew to include large tents featuring live music, folk dancing, artisans’ wares, rides and an abundance of stein-served beer. For the second year in a row, the Munich-based festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
This is the first in-person event held by the Ormond Beach Historical Society as the community maneuvers the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Fundraising and special events committee co-chairs Joy Brown and Mia James, were pleased with the outcome of their biggest fundraiser which grossed just over $15,000. The funds will help the society focus on renovations of the MacDonald house as it is transformed into the Ormond Beach Museum of History.
“Overall we are really pleased with how the event flowed,” James said. “Our entertainment, The Bavarians, kept the party going with polkas, line dances and even a conga line. We also had many compliments on the food catered by To Better Days. Presently, we plan to have an Oktoberfest again next year. Mia and I will chair the event.”