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U.S. Toasts Heady Import: Bavaria's Oktoberfest


Germany's traditional Oktoberfest, a combination beer fair and folk festival held annually in Munich, will be celebrated throughout the United States, with many towns and cities strictly copying the Munich version.

The original Oktoberfest dates from 1810, when Bavarian King Maximilian threw a beer party in honor of the marriage of his son, Crown Prince Ludwig, to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.

Originally, the fair was held only in October (hence the name), but early winter storms caused the date to be changed to late September and early October. This year's Munich Oktoberfest takes place Sept. 22 through Oct. 7.

German immigrants brought the Oktoberfest to the United States and Canada. This year, Canada's largest celebration lasts for nine days, Oct. 5-13, and takes place in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario in more than 200 beer halls, with more than 100 staged events.

There are thousands of Oktoberfest celebrations in the United States. A partial listing follows:

ALABAMA: The Birmingham Oktoberfest, Sept. 13-15, will be held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Exhibition Hall, which will be transformed into a tiny Bavaria, with Tiroler Zugspitz-Echo, a band from Germany and the Mitternaechters specializing in fast polkas and slow waltzes. German foods, beers and other beverages will be available. For details, call (205) 923-6564.

COLORADO: Two weekends in September are devoted to the celebration of Oktoberfest in Denver. Larimer Square turns into another Munich, Sept. 21-23 and 28-30. Most visitors come in costume. Continuous entertainment and dancing is provided. German foods and beers will be offered. For details, call (303) 534-2367.

FLORIDA: "Munich in Cape Coral," near Ft. Myers, Oct. 19-21, is a modern-type Oktoberfest. It will offer authentic German foods, music and beer. Two German bands will play. For details, call (813) 283-1400.

GEORGIA: Oktoberfest is held in the Alpine town of Helen, on weekends from Sept. 6-8 through Oct. 25-27. Activities include Bavarian foods, German music and dancing. The first weekend will end with an Oktoberfest parade featuring various bands. For details, call (404) 878-2181.

ILLINOIS: Oktoberfest takes place in Chicago, Sept. 12-15, on Adams Street, between State and Dearborn. Food and dance will be featured. Bands from Heidelberg, Germany, and Chicago will play. Traditional German foods and beers will be served under giant outdoor tents. For details, call (312) 427-3170.

KENTUCKY: Oktoberfest '90 in Covington comes early, Sept. 7-9. The weekend is devoted to German food, crafts, games, carriage tours and entertainment at Mainstrasse Village. For details, call (606) 491-0458.

MINNESOTA: Oktoberfest in New Ulm is set for Oct. 12-13 and 19-20, featuring the Concord Singers. Two stages will offer continuous entertainment. German food is to be served. Authentic German crafts and souvenirs also are available. For details, call (507) 359-2941.

NEW MEXICO: Cloudcroft Oktoberfest and Aspencade, Oct. 6-7, combines the traditional German celebration with hayride tours to view the fall foliage. Lots of German food and drink along with music, arts, crafts, a horseshoe tournament and square dancing. For details, call (505) 682-2733.

OHIO: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, in Cincinnati, is Sept. 15-16. Festivities will be held in a six-block area surrounding Fountain Square downtown. More than 500,000 visitors are expected. Bands, dancing, German foods, pastries and beer will be featured. Brewmasters will conduct tastings, and the Oldenberg Brewery will display memorabilia of Cincinnati. For details, call (513) 579-3191 or (513) 241-9059.

OKLAHOMA: Tulsa's Oktoberfest is scheduled for Oct. 19-21. The entire city turns into a German satellite, with three biergartens, German bands, dancing, sing-alongs and various contests in a city park. On the river, a floating stage is the setting for a folk-dance contest and other events. A visual arts center will feature more than 90 artists and craftsmen at work, and a children's entertainment center has been planned. For details, call (918) 582-0051.

TEXAS: Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg is planned for Oct. 5-7. A German-style bierhalle will be set up in Market Square. Singing, dancing and music by local and foreign bands. Many visitors come dressed in traditional dirndls and lederhosen. Among the German foods will be wurst, sauerkraut and baked goods, plus beer and other beverages. A street dance and waltz contest will be part of the entertainment. For details, call (512) 997-4810.

VIRGINIA: Oktoberfest in Norfolk is Oct. 12-14. The city's Town Point Park will be transformed into a German festhaus under a big tent. Authentic German bands. Food, beer and a beer-barrel race. A kinder markt for children will feature the making of wreaths and lederhosen. Plans call for games and special music, plus dancing for children and the telling of German fairy tales. For details, call (804) 627-7809.

WISCONSIN: Milwaukee's Oktoberfest covers three September weekends: Sept. 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23. In Old Heidelberg Park, bands will play and visitors will sing, dance and buy food, beer and other beverages. For details, call (414) 462-9147.

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