German Heritage Celebration Supports Schifferstadt Museum of Architecture

Oct. 16 – Tongs heaped sauerkraut on hot bratwurst, tunes from a German band filled the air and scores of Oktoberfest attendees shoved beers to their lips on Sunday in Frederick.

The Schifferstadt Architecture Museum’s Oktoberfest celebration has returned for the first time since 2019.

“This is our biggest fundraiser ever,” said Mary Mannix, vice president of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, which owns the museum.

The non-profit foundation is dedicated to historic preservation.

“It’s not just about the beer and the kids,” Mannix said – but she said they were popular.

Education was at the forefront of the day. The house was open for free tours, and living historians in period clothing offered demonstrations.

Hundreds of years ago, Germans were drawn to bargains for farmland in Frederick County, according to Mannix. She used the term “Germanic” to refer to people from the region in and around what is now Germany.

“The Germanics of Frederick County changed the nature of agriculture in Maryland,” she said.

On Sunday afternoon, volunteers Douglas Claytor and Tim Reinhardt demonstrated how these people and their descendants prepared meals around a campfire.

Bean soup being cooked in a hanging pot while a coal covered dutch oven preheated to prepare for baking a pie. Claytor turned a piece of roast beef on a spit, the vegetables softening underneath. Despite the hot weather and the heat of the fire, a small crowd gathered around the living history installation.

“You can see the interest being generated,” said Claytor, a longtime Oktoberfest volunteer.

Reinhardt, a Hood College student, came to Oktoberfest to get the living history experience required for the class. He learned a lot from Claytor, like how to brew tea over an open fire, what wood is best for lighting a campfire, and how to be hygienic while cooking outside.

“I’m only used to grilling,” Reinhardt said, leaning on a shovel.

Reinhardt and Claytor wore weskits, which resembled a jacket and vest, with detachable sleeves and silver buttons down the middle.

A few steps from the campfire, volunteers demonstrated how linen is used to make clothing. The flax plants grown on site were combed on devices called choppers to separate the fiber. The fiber can then be spun into yarn used to make linen garments.

The process is long and involves many steps, according to Beatty-Cramer House director Joe Lubozynski. The house is one of the other historic properties of the Landmarks Foundation.

Many Oktoberfest attendees sported dirndls, traditional German dresses and lederhosen. Frederick residents Allen and Anita Barclay dressed the part. They had just returned from a trip to Germany and Austria.

“We love history,” said Anita, who has German heritage.

The couple sat down at picnic tables to feast on bratwurst. Allen took a big bite.

“It’s great,” he said.

Frederick resident Lance Dixon sampled imported German beer with a deep amber color. He and his wife, Kymberli, walked their goldendoodle, Otis, to the event from their home. They had missed attending Oktoberfest for the past few years.

“It’s a fun tradition,” said Lance, who grew up in Frederick.

Attendees who weren’t already dressed had the chance to purchase authentic German clothing at the event.

Stefanie Smith, owner of Dirndl Lederhosen Haus, imports clothes from Germany and Austria. She grew up spending half her time in the United States and the other half in Germany.

“It’s nice to wear clothes, so it’s nice to be able to bring them here so people can enjoy the culture,” she said.

Jennie Russell, president of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, was thrilled to see so many vendors and guests returning for Oktoberfest. She had wondered how the event would turn out after a three-year hiatus. She described the Schifferstadt Oktoberfest as a family event.

“We’re thrilled with the turnout and support,” Russell said.

A large crowd gathered to listen to German band Heimat Echo. The band’s name translates to “echoes of the homeland”, according to member Tom Holtz.

Holtz played a helicon – an early form of the tuba. His version came with an accessory to hold a mug of beer.

“Oktoberfest season, tuba players are very busy,” Holtz said.

Although he is not German, Holtz said he fell in love with the country’s music. He has been playing the helicon for 25 years and the tuba for even longer.

Holtz attends many Oktoberfests to perform, but said the one in Schifferstadt was special. Much of the crowd was seated on hay bales. Children were dancing on wooden planks.

“The bales of hay in the tent kind of set the mood for it all,” Holtz said.

If he were to attend an Oktoberfest as a regular guest, it would probably be Schifferstadt.

“The mood is good,” Holtz said.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller