You can add Germany’s renown Oktoberfest to the long list of festivals being cancelled this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Oktoberfest finds its roots in Germany and has been around for well over 200 years, drawing more than six million people to the yearly event.
And yes, the cancellation is heartbreaking — this famous fest celebrates all things Bavarian with good food and beer and plenty of partying — but necessary if we want to stomp this virus.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate here in Canada. The good news is the famous Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest in Ontario — considered the largest festival in the country and outside of Germany — has not been cancelled! But it will be different, with new safety protocols in place, running over three weekends starting this weekend, and two weeks earlier than usual. There will be some beloved events missing this year, but the heart and soul of the event is front and centre, including fundraising initiatives for local food banks.
“If the past five months have shown us anything, it’s that our community continues to find innovative ways to come together safely,” said festival president Tim Beckett in a written media statement. “With that spirit in mind, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest was determined to move forward to find a safe way to continue the tradition. This format allows people to decide how to join the festivities safely — either in a restaurant or gathered at home – with those close to you.
“It’s like the Superbowl, but with really good polka music.”
Organizers call this year one of the most crucial ever: “We need to come together to celebrate community, heritage, friends, family and FUN!” say organizers on Oktoberfest.ca , adding “while Canada’s largest Bavarian Festival is taking a different form this year, we are committed to bringing as much of our favourite festival to you through virtual events, small gatherings and some very special contests.”
Organizers are promising live-streaming that includes dancing, culture, food and music. In fact, official opening ceremonies will be live streamed this Friday.
So go ahead, and don your Tracht or lederhosen, enjoy delicious Bavarian cuisine, polka around and toast all that is truly special to you. With all that beer and bratwurst, sauerkraut and gingerbread cookies, this festival is the proverbial door that opens up the country to all of autumn’s glory. A hearty Prost! to everyone.
Check out oktoberfest.ca for further details. And enjoy the following recipes so that you can have your own Octoberfest celebrations at home.
Favourite Foods of Oktoberfest
These include such hearty dishes as a selection of sausages including bratwurst, bauernwurst (a type of farmer’s sausage), knockwurts and frankfurter. Soft, oversized pretzels dipped in mouth-watering mustards are a must, potato dumplings as well as “spatzle” egg noodles – enough to soak up all the gravy of such dishes as schnitzel in a creamy mushroom sauce. There’s sauerkraut, or pickled red cabbage for side dishes, gingerbread cookies and dark chocolate cake with sour cherry sauce. And beer, of course!
– Check out germanfoods.org for great food recipes and party ideas.
It wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without this classic treat. Recipe courtesy Fleischmann’s Yeast ( makegood.ca/fleischmanns )
4 to 4-1/2 cups (500 to 625g) all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) sugar
1 (2-1/4 tsp/11 mL.) envelope RapidRise yeast
1-1/2 tsp. (6 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) corn oil
2 eggs lightly beaten
Topping; Coarse salt, grated Parmesan cheese, poppy seed or sesame seed
Combine 2 cups flour (250g), sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Heat milk, water, and oil until very warm (120 to 130F/50-55C); stir into flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.
Divide into 14 equal pieces. Roll each piece to 20-in (50cm) rope. Cover; let rest 5 to 10 minutes until risen slightly. To shape into pretzels: Curve ends of each rope to make a circle; cross ends at top. Twist ends once and lay over bottom of circle. Place on 2 greased baking sheets.
Brush with beaten eggs. Bake at 350F (180C) for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; brush again with eggs. Sprinkle with salt, cheese, poppy seed, or sesame seed.
Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes or until done. Remove pretzels from baking sheets; let cool on wire racks.
Serve with favourite honey mustard. Makes 14 pretzels.
New Potato and Bierwurst Salad with Mustard Cream Dressing
Perfect for cool weather eating; recipe courtesy of Roz Denny, Modern German Cooking for Germanfoods.org.
1 lb. (500 g) baby new potatoes scrubbed and cut in half
1/2 small red onion sliced thinly
1 tsp. (5 mL) fresh lemon juice
4 oz. (1/2 lb.) cooked bierwurst sausage, sliced thinly
2 gherkins chopped
3 Tbsp. (45 mL) mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) grainy mustard
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) Quark or sour cream
1-2 Tbsp. (15-30 mL) milk
Chopped dill and fresh parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For Salad Dressing:
1/2 cup. (125 mL) each vegetable oil, olive oil and white wine or apple vinegar
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) sea salt
1 tsp. (5 mL) each favourite mustard and honey
Salt/pepper to taste
SALAD DRESSING: Whisk together all ingredients. Store refrigerated in sealed jar. Whisk again just before serving. This dressing is a good all-purpose recipe for green leaf, potato, pasta and mixed vegetable salads.
POTATO SALAD: Boil potatoes in salted water for 10 to 12 minutes or until just tender. Drain and mix gently in a large bowl with sliced red onion. Season to taste and cool slightly. Add 3 Tbsp. (45 mL) of salad dressing to potatoes and refrigerate for one hour or until chilled. Meanwhile, chop apple and mix with lemon juice. Mix into potato along with the sausage and gherkins.
Beat mayonnaise, mustard, Quark and just enough milk to make a dressing consistency of cream. Stir this carefully into salad, spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped herbs.
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