Square Hosts Oktoberfest Celebration

Although Munich ended its 17-day Oktoberfest on Oct. 4, the celebration carried on in Harvard Square on Sunday, as hundreds of vendors, several live bands, a parade, and three pseudo-beer gardens took over the Square.

Rachael Solem, a member of the Harvard Square Business Association’s board of directors, estimated that over 100,000 people gathered to enjoy the Square’s 32nd annual Oktoberfest.

Solem said the festival has grown in attendance and scope due to its recent “embellishment,” including the HONK! Festival Parade, a grassroots, non-profit event composed of over 350 eccentric musicians.

Leslie A. Wacker, a self-described “rogue marching band tramp,” is one of three members of the band that has attended every HONK! Festival Parade—also known as a HONK! Fest—ever held, including five in the Boston area and three in Seattle. Wacker, dressed in purple fishnets, layered dresses, a corset, and a clown nose, called the members of the band her “family.”

Over 30 Honk! Bands from the Davis Square area congregated in Harvard Square to parade for Oktoberfest, banging drums and honking horns in a scene that could easily have been found within the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.

The offbeat performers and myriad vendors did not compose an authentic Oktoberfest, though they did deliver a uniquely-Cambridge version of the event.

American beers proliferated, and temporary “beer gardens,” such as the one set up by Mongolian barbecue restaurant Fire + Ice in the Church St. parking lot, seemed far from a typical German Oktoberfest experience.

Dressed in traditional lederhosen passed down from his great-grandfather, Ian M. Stone, a student at Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater, Mass. who has been to an Oktoberfest celebration in Germany, said, “We were expecting something with real German food and more of the tradition of dancing, music, and cooking. I’d call [the Harvard Square Oktoberfest] Halloween. People are dressed up pretty weird.”

Cambridge’s take on the 200-year-old celebration was filled with characters. Moses Grubb, a San Francisco resident visiting the East Coast as a member of a touring kinetic sculpture based on the game Mouse Trap, noted that the Harvard Square Oktoberfest marked his first visit to the state, and that the spectacular weather and talent of the HONK! Fest performers made the trip worthwhile.

Harvard students seemed to enjoy the quirky composite of visitors as much as the event itself.

“It’s a nice event to have,” said Bekah G. Ross ’11. “It’s fun to walk around and look enviously at carnival food stands.”

—Staff writer Michelle B. Timmerman can be reached at mtimmerman@college.harvard.edu.

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