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Oktoberfest and Deutsches Haus return home to New Orleans

Cassandra Jaskiewicz and Sofia Gilmore-Montero, Instagram Manager; News Editor

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After many turbulent years following Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures, Deutsches Haus and Oktoberfest are officially returning to New Orleans. Deutsches Haus has a longstanding history with the German community dating back to 1848. It evolved from Deutsche Gesellschaft von New Orleans and other area Deutsche groups in 1928.

“German culture has been suppressed in the city, but the importance of the German culture throughout the region, historically, has been very strong,” said Jack Gonsalez, president of Deutsches Haus. “The influence of the Germans is all over New Orleans and the region. To sort of bring that to life and share that with a lot of different people is what our mission is.”

Loaded with history, culture and beer, Deutsche Haus hosted another wonderful and successful Oktoberfest. However, returning to New Orleans wasn’t an easy thing to do.  

“With Hurricane Katrina, the Haus that was built since 1928 got flooded. It took a year or to gut everything,” Theresa Crosby, executive director of Deutsches Haus and the first ever executive director since 1928, recounted in an interview with the Driftwood.

The Haus was rebuilt a year later, but its challenges weren’t over.

“The governor at the time, which was Governor (Bobby) Jindal, told us that he was going to expropriate the land to make way for the new medical complex that is now built,” Crosby said.

The Haus set up a temporary location in Kenner, which Crosby called a “gracious host,” but it was time for them to move back home to New Orleans where they rightfully belonged.

After months of work securing the land, contractors and supplies usingmoney they gained after petitioning the city for their new and now permanent location, the group is  finally able to return and host Oktoberfest where they were meant to be.

They shine in their new location. The music features many bands, but the highlight is The Bräts performance, a New Orleans polka band which covers classic German tunes, such as Edelweiss and The Chicken Dance,  as well as polka-fied pop hits like Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. The adorably cute Schnauzer Strut featured as parade of dogs clad in classic German attire. Food options included pretzels, strudels, roasted nuts, loaded brats and so much more.

Then, most importantly, there was the beer. New Orleans’ Oktoberfest boasts more than 20 different kinds of beers, including Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Warsteiner Dunkel, Yuengling Oktoberfest.

 “I went to the United States’ largest Oktoberfest in Cincinnati, and you know how many beers they had there?  Four!” Crosby said.

The Deutsche Haus will be more than 90 years old next year and will hopefully be celebrating in their future Haus.  

If you are interested in becoming a member of Deutsches Haus, want to volunteer for Oktoberfest, or are interested in donating to the campaign to build the Haus, go to http://deutscheshaus.org/.  

 

German fun facts!

  1. Germans are known for their beer because of Reinheitsgebot, the oldest consumer protection law, known as the “Beer Purity Law”.
  2. Leidenheimer Baking Company has made French bread for more than 100 years, but was started by Germans who brought the German way of bread-making to New Orleans.
  3. Germans are known for Gemütlichkeit, the German equivalent of what we like to call “southern hospitality.”
  4. The “Chicken Dance” has German origins and was originally known as the “Duck Dance.”
  5. The German Coast was a region of early Louisiana settlement on the east side of the Mississippi river, which is now a part of Saint Charles Parish. In French, it is known as Côte des Allemands.

 

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Oktoberfest and Deutsches Haus return home to New Orleans