Palouse celebrates Oktoberfest

What started as lavish royal wedding survived as two-century old tradition



The fairgrounds of Munich’s Oktoberfest, which attracts 6 million people worldwide as the largest Oktoberfest in the world, are nicknamed Wies’n for Germany’s Princess Theresienwiese. The fairgrounds are decorated in her honor.

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER, Evergreen reporter

The whirlwind celebratory combination of beer, pork knuckles, lederhosen, beer, bratwurst, dirndls and of course beer can only mean one thing: Oktoberfest.

The largest Oktoberfest in the world takes place in Munich, as it’s the location of the origin of the festival. It was first celebrated in the year 1810 when Bavarian Crown Prince Louis married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, according to the History Channel website.

The prince and princess invited common people to the festivities against tradition, and 40,000 people attended over the five-day celebration. The following year the festivities were repeated as a tribute to the happy couple and thus Oktoberfest was born.

Oktoberfest has found its way around the world, due in part to German settlers celebrating the festivities in their new homes.

In 2014, the second-largest celebration outside of Munich was held in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, according to an article in the Smithsonian magazine. America’s largest celebrations are located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Nashville, Tennessee, according to an article in USA Today.

The Palouse is similar to the rest of the world in that Pullmanites love beer and good food. Several Oktoberfest celebrations will take place this weekend to commemorate this centuries-long tradition.

Lutheran Campus Minister Karla Neumann Smiley said the University of Idaho branch of the Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) was the first to bring Oktoberfest to the Palouse and will celebrate its fifth anniversary this weekend.

“One of the key pieces of the Palouse is the way we come together as a community, so we wanted to be able to celebrate that in a way that also celebrates our heritage,” Neumann Smiley said. “The origin of [our sect of] Lutheranism is German, so we get to bring in the cultural aspect and bring the community together.”

The LCM Oktoberfest celebration will have bratwursts from Vandal Brand Meats and rolls from the Moscow Co-op because supporting local businesses is important to Neumann Smiley. Beer and wine will also be available for those of age.

“We’ll have polka lessons this year and the German professors come out and teach people about German culture,” said Mikayla Sievers, student leader at LCM and UI graduate student. “It’s a great way for people to come out and learn about the German culture and how it’s reflected in this sect of Christianity and enjoy some great German food.”

On the Palouse, we can celebrate Oktoberfest with the same sentiments as those in Germany, but the festival in Munich is much different. Evergreen reporter Aila Ikuse is on exchange in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and had the opportunity to attend the opening weekend of the Munich Oktoberfest that draws over 6 million people every year.

Oktoberfest celebrations on the Palouse will take place all weekend. The Coug will host the Bayern Oktoberfest through Sunday with live music, Bayern Brewing seasonal beer and German sausages. The Coug encourages those attending to dress in traditional German attire for a possible discount.

The Gladish Community & Cultural Center will host Oktoberfest 2018 at 5 p.m. Saturday at the center with bratwursts, sauerkraut, pretzel rolls, live music and a silent auction. Admission is $25 for adults, $15 for 12 and under in advance and $35 at the door, according to the Gladish Facebook page.

The Lutheran Campus Ministry at UI will host its fifth annual Oktoberfest at 4 p.m. Saturday at the 1912 Center in Moscow. Admission is a suggested donation of $15.