Festival features music, food and beer of Germany

August 22, 1994|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll Park in southwest Baltimore turned into Little Germany this weekend as German food and music lovers turned out for the 94th Annual German Festival.

Musicians in lederhosen and dancers in authentic costumes performed as festivalgoers dined on knackwurst, schnitzel and sour beef. German beer poured freely.

"It's more than tradition," said Bob Sheppard, the festival's chairman. "It's a matter of recognizing all the accomplishments of your particular ethnic group."

Mr. Sheppard said most people came to the festival to "have a good time," but ended up getting a little German culture along the way.

"We heard about it on TV and just wanted to try something new," said Linda Rafferty of Brooklyn Park, who was at the festival for the first time. "Some of the food is pretty good."

"We're just here for the beer," added her husband, Sean.

Bratwurst, bauernwurst, strudel, dumplings -- newcomers had only to scope the place out to see what this festival was all about. Two huge food tents and a large stage dominated the area, surrounded by dozens of food stands.

"I've been coming down here at least 20 years," said Kaz Wulkowicz, the principal of Kaz and the Bavarian Polka Band. "This is a great festival. We like the music. We love the people we play to. . . . Baltimore is one of the greatest-managed festivals in the Northeast."

Nine performing groups from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland entertained festival crowds. More than 70 vendors sold German crafts, wines, beer steins, leather goods, T-shirts, toys and other goods.

The festival is sponsored by the German-American Citizens Association of Maryland, a Baltimore-based group that represents 13 German organizations. Fifteen people plan the festival for more than six months, and more than 400 volunteers help run the three-day event.

Festival organizers said they expected at least 35,000 people and hoped to net $75,000, which would be distributed among the 13 member organizations.

Though there were a few American products to be found -- including Budweiser beer, Pepsi and a booth featuring free MCI calls -- the festival was a time to celebrate things German.

"It's a proud heritage," said Hartmut Fricke, a dancer in the G.T.V. Annapolis Bavarians, whose German mother started the group. "I'm proud of my heritage, and I think it's important to have events like this to show it."

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