One of the biggest events this weekend will be the Glenville Oktoberfest on Saturday at Ma’alwyck Park. It’s the 13th year of the event and organizers expect at least 10,000 people.
“It’s a celebration of the community,” said David Hennel, chairman of the organizing committee. “It’s an annual chance to get together with people you might not have seen in a while.”
The one-day festival began as a fun event at Schenectady’s airport to showcase the town of Glenville. People used to fly in in their private planes just to attend, he said.
About 2,000 people usually showed up to enjoy what was even then a focus on authentic German food, heritage and music.
Over the years as more events were added, more bands began to play, and more people began to attend, the event was moved to Ma’alwyck Park and why organizers now bill the event as “Munich on the Mohawk,” Hennel said.
“The event is so popular that we’ve become quite regional and not just local,” he said. “We’re even on a national list of Oktoberfests.”
There are tons of things to enjoy. There are two beer gardens, including the Wolf Hollow Brewing Biergarten; authentic German food supplied by the German/American Club of Albany; loads of vendors; and four bands, which are Gregory and the Brauhaus Band from Albany, Herbie and His Accord-a-Tones from Albany, Bratwurst Boys from Long Island, and Roxy and The Rollers, a local band.
“You can have lunch, go walk around and then come back and have dinner,” Hennel said with a laugh.
There will be two competitions: the nail pounding game, or hammerspielen, and stein hoisting.
“We saw the nail pounding game on an Australian show,” Hennel said. “It’s who can pound nails fastest on a four by four post. They must be hit cleanly and there are three contestants at once. The stein is a heavy glass mug with water in it. It’s a feat of strength to hold it the longest — some from four to eight minutes. Both games are very popular.”
Three years ago the HSV Bavaria Schuhplattler Dancers, a traditional German dance group from Connecticut, was added. Twelve dancers in costume will dance when the bands take a break. There is also a cruise-in-car show of classic cars open to the public at no admission and hundreds will be on display; a K-9 demonstration; a Safe Child booth where parents can get their child fingerprinted and photographed for an ID card; and helicopter rides.
“We’ll have three copters, which are based in Newburgh. People can take a ten-minute scenic ride,” Hennel said.
The cost is $70 a person and copters will fly until dark.
This event takes a huge effort with hundreds of volunteers and 30 sponsors, which keeps the event at a free admission. Among the volunteers are members of ROTC from Schenectady High School, who will help with parking. And while everyone is enjoying the closing fireworks, Hennel’s team is already working on Oktoberfest 2023.
“We’ll meet weekly and then by January we get moving. It’s really to line up the bands to be sure they’ll be available the last Saturday in September,” Hennel said. “I’ve been involved from the beginning. It takes tons of hours and our budget has grown. But it’s a lot of fun to see people enjoy that day.”
Glenville Oktoberfest ‘Munich on the Mohawk’
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 24, noon to 9 p.m.
WHERE: Ma’alwyck Park, Glenville
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.glenvilleoktoberfest.com