Organizers want to see the festival grow to the size of Irish Day.
There’s no resting in Long Beach after Irish Day on Saturday.
The following day, on Oct. 7, Long Beach German
Oktoberfest will return to the Cabana, where the annual
by owner Bob Johnson six years ago, after a one-year stint at Sweet Retreat ice cream shop last year.
“It piggybacked on Irish Day at The Cabana and
eventually it grew into its own separate weekend,” said Andrew Hetzler, a lifelong Long Beach resident who helped organize the festival. “ … Regardless of being the day after Irish Day, we
anticipate a great crowd as we always have.”
The Oct. 7 date was also also chosen because the following day is a holiday, Columbus
Day, when many people take off from work. By promoting the event on Facebook
and through word of mouth, Hetzler expects, or hopes for, a crowd of 800 or
more revelers. The event has grown each year since its inception, when a hundred
people turned out.
Come Sunday, The Cabana, a Mexican-American establishment at 1034 W. Beech St.,
will instead serve authentic German food and beer by Paulaner, a German brewing
company that sponsors the event. German dance clubs, dressed in garb
reminiscent of the homeland, will perform to the tunes of an Oompah band, and
games, contests and giveaways will be included.
This year, local bars are donating kegs to the event. And for the second
consecutive year, City of Long Beach officials will make a presentation and
proclaim Oct. 7 “German-American Day in Long Beach.”
“Our event has always had a great relationship with the City of Long Beach, who
have been very supportive since the beginning,” Hetzler said. Past Grand
Marshals have included former City Council President Thomas Sofield Jr., and Larry Elovich
, the late chairman of the Long
Beach Chamber of Commerce.
The goal, Hetzler said, is to one day have a city-wide celebration with a turn-out
on a scale like Irish Day, a parade and festival
that has been held
in the West End on the first Saturday of October for more than 20
“We are especially optimistic given the vast number of Long Beach residents
with German backgrounds,” said Hetzler, who cited stats that
say one in four Americans has German ancestry.
When Hetzler was growing up, his father, William, was active in many
German-American groups, and he attended many German community events across New
York and Long Island with him. For about 20 years, William was the general
chairman of the great German-American Steuben Parade on 5th Avenue in New
“So growing up so immersed, I developed a real love for my German heritage
and culture,” said Hetzler, who attended college in Heidelberg, Germany.
Hetzler's mother is Irish and he has attended Irish Day through the years.
One year, he got the idea: “What if we brought a little bit of the great German culture
to Long Beach to celebrate this popular local heritage and the grand
contributions that were made to this country by Americans of German descent?”
Six years later, after the first festival, Hetzler points to the support he
has gained from the City Council, the Long Beach Bar Owners
Association and, most importantly to him, the Long Beach residents, evidenced
by the growing number of people attending the Oktoberfest each year.
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