Frederick Oktoberfest celebrates German culture

Oct. 22—Bavarian folk music filled the air at the Oktoberfest at the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum on Sunday.

The band, Heidi und Heimat Echo, gives people the experience of ethnic folk music from Germany, with instruments like cowbells, accordions and a flugelhorn — a trumpet with "wings."

"It's very tuned in to the mountainous regions, which is southern Germany and into Austria, parts of Switzerland ... and they like to get together after the hard working during the week, they like to get together on the weekends and have their gatherings, and there's always music, and usually dancing and singing, and it's folk type stuff," band member Mark Meuschke.

The band also wouldn't be complete without their traditional tracht garb, which consists of lederhosen for men and dirndl for women.

Over the course of two days, hundreds went to the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum to experience pieces of German culture.

Beer was plentiful. Bratwurst and pretzels filled the stomachs of hungry festival-goers. Some topped off their meals with a pumpkin strudel.

Jennie Russell, the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation president, said that Oktoberfest was very successful this year despite windy weather.

"It's a nod at our history, a nod back at our history," Russell said. "We like to showcase the impact of those original German settlers and, at the same time, sort of emphasize ... how those early immigrants were accepted and became part of this community."

There were roughly around the same number of attendees this year, she said on Sunday, but a few more vendors.

One such vendor was Stephanie Smith with her business Dirndl Lederhosen Haus, which sells tracht clothes imported from Germany and Austria. Smith also makes some herself.

She's been selling at the Oktoberfest in Frederick for about four years, and loves how immersive the experience is, with music, dancers and food.

Smith's mother is German, and Smith herself grew up in Germany. She loves how she can share her culture through traditional Bavarian clothing.

"It's really fun clothing to wear., It just sort of transports you into a different place and it really brings you into the Oktoberfest spirit," she said.

Meuschke's son, Torsten Meuschke was also wearing his lederhosen. Torston's wife, Marie Meuschke, was wearing her dirndl.

Though the couple isn't in the musical group, Torsten said he likes to honor his German heritage when he can. When his work has Oktoberfest Day, he also wears his lederhosen into the office, which is always a huge hit.

This was not the first time the couple had attended the Oktoberfest at the Schifferstadt. It's always a good time, they said, and Torsten said he felt like there's been a resurgence for Oktoberfest celebrations.

"In recent years, people embrace Oktoberfest more and more now because of the amount of craft breweries that have emerged in recent years around the area, in general around the world now too," he said.

Gordon Strosnider also came to get in touch with his German heritage — he's half German — and introduced his 3-year-old son Sebastian to it. They were wearing traditional Tyrolean Alpine hats, with little feathers sticking out of the band.

He loves how Frederick hosts Oktoberfest as a way to also connect with its sister city in Germany, Schifferstadt. A lot of cities don't celebrate where its original founders came from, he said.

"it's just a nice connection to the past, and bringing it to the present. And obviously, Sebastian, you know, bringing the future generations into it as well," he said.

Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel