Oktoberfest Brings Gemütlichkeit Back to Downtown Saline


It's been more than 720 days since downtown Saline has experienced the kind gemütlichkeit that comes from Oktoberfest.

Matthew Schneider explained what gemütlichkeit the meaning of the German word during the "Tapping of The Golden Keg" ceremony as the two-day festival opened Friday night.

"There's no English translation for this. It's a feeling of warmth, of comfort, of joy, of being surrounded by your friends and maybe having a beer or two. It's being exactly where you want at the right time, on a beautiful day," Schneider said.

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And then Schneider and company led the growing crowd into the traditional Oktoberfest song

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit

After the toast, they drank from the ceremonial golden keg, which has been brought to the festival by a horse-drawn carriage, to kick off the festival.

Mayor Brian Marl welcomed the crowd to the festival and introduced festmaster Rebecca Schneider. Schneider thanked the Saline-Lindenberg Friendship Committee for the honor. Schneider spoke about the roots of the festival, which began as a celebration of the City of Saline's sister-city relationship with Lindenberg, Germany.

"It is my sincere hope that you come here and eat drink and be merry, and gather in this festive place with your friends and neighbors and family," Schneider said. 

She said she hoped people might leave the festival a little more curious about German culture and ask members of the Saline-Lindenberg Friendship Committee about their experiences with their German friends and on their visits to Lindenberg.

Schneider noted that the important contributions German immigrants made to the Saline community.

"Saline has a deep German cultural heritage. You only have to drive around on the dirt roads surrounding Saline or go to the Saline Fair and see the list of names on the Grand Champions' list to know that this area was settled by German people who continue to flourish here today," Schneider said.

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While Oktoberfest is set to a Bavarian theme, it's as much a community fall festival as a German cultural festival. Yes, some of the men wear lederhosen and women wear the Dirndl dress. Yes, the Saline-Lindenberg Friendship Committee sells the traditional weisswurst.

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But the student chefs/bakers from the South and West Washtenaw Consortium and Saline High School were there selling baked goods. 

Yes, there were German beers - some made by our own microbreweries. But there was also Bud Light.

And the music -Atomic Radio was a classic American party band.

Here's the schedule for Saturday:

10 a.m. - Kinderplatz - free fun for kids until 3 p.m.
10 a.m. - Free entrance as live music is played until 5 p.m.
5 p.m. - $5 fee for 21 and up until 11 p.m.
6 p.m. - Hammerspiel tournament.
6:30 p.m. - Deutscher Kleider Pageant and Contest.
8 p.m. - Jedi Mind Trip (cover band) plays until 11 p.m.

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