It's a party of all things German at the 23rd annual Oktoberfest, which opens Friday at the German-American Social Club of Cape Coral.
It's six days of Gemuetlichkeit (comfort in a festive atmosphere) for the next two weekends with singing, dancing, food, games, entertainment, fun and beverages for the whole family.
"This year we expect around 35,000 people," said Rick Heins, Oktoberfest spokesman. "Last year, we had around 26,000 to 32,000 people."
The fun begins at 4 p.m. Friday, followed by a Grand Opening Parade at 8 p.m. Greeting those at the fest will be Ms. Oktoberfest Barbara Gennity.
Gennity is 41 years old and works as an administrative receptionist/fitness instructor at the city of Sanibel Recreation Center.
Gennity is of German descent and wants to someday visit Germany to see where her grandmother was born and to learn more about her family history and genealogy.
"I think Oktoberfest is going to be so good and that they are making it so family oriented," Gennity said. "It's such a great event."
This week, Gennity has been handing out brochures promoting the event.
"I want everybody to know about it," Gennity said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 in Germany to honor the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Festivities center around garden tents where participants gather with friends for good food and drink. Oktoberfest is one of the largest celebrations of the year in Munich, the capital of Bavaria.
The Cape Coral event continues through Sunday and Oct. 24-26.
Last year's event raised more than $15,000 for five local charities. The Cape Coral club gives donations every year after counting profits from its annual event. Ten to 15 percent of the profits go to charity. The rest pays for club activities, improvements and next year's event.
"The amount varies according to the profits of the Oktoberfest but consistently runs into five figures each year," Heins said.
For the family, organizers have added more carnival rides including a mechanical bull for children.
"We have more kiddie rides and bungee jumps," said Gerhard Veith, German American Social Club president.
The centerpiece of the event is always the huge tent where the bands play and people dance and drink. This year, the 100-foot by 300-foot tent is new, with stages at each end of the dance floor.
"It really looks impressive with the gables and things," Veith said.
This year's featured band is the Maselheimer Musikanten, a 25-piece group, which has played at the Oktoberfest in Munich. It will play a variety of traditional German music and other songs.
There will be continuous music in the Bavarian Gardens by the club's own Hafenkapelle, a 30-piece brass band, and Alpen Diamanten.
Other entertainment includes music by Manni, Jason & Co.; Barefoot Becky and Peter & Edith.
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