Janusz M. Szlechta
On Saturday, November 4, Oktoberfest, a beer festival, was organized for the first time at Cracovia Manor in Wallington, NJ. As there are many beer lovers among the Polish community, Cracovia was full that evening. The party ended at 2 a.m.
The participants of this unique event were welcomed by Grażyna Torbus, president of the management board of Cracovia. “This is our first Oktoberfest, but not the last. We will meet here again next year,” she ured. At the same time, she introduced a special guest – writer, traveler and extreme runner Tomasz Sobania. Tomasz is 25 years old. In 2019, he ran across Poland, from Zakopane to Gdynia. He covered a distance of 756 km in 18 days. His run was held under the slogan “I run, you help”. He collected PLN 30,000 for the treatment of Mrs Dominika, who was suffering from cancer. Tomasz announced that he intends to run across the entire United States in 2024. It will start from Boston and run through New York to Chicago, and then along the famous Route 66 to Los Angeles. Every day he will cover a route the length of a clic marathon. Mrs. Grażyna asked him to also run through Wallington and Tomasz ured that this would happen.
Jurek Majcherczyk invited participants of trips to Peru, South America and other regions of the world, which were organized by his Clic Travel agency, to take part in this event. In this way, he wanted to give everyone a chance to have a nice meeting and make memories. And 12 people came to Cracovia, including three who returned from a trip to Peru two weeks ago. An additional message of this invitation was support for one of the last places in New Jersey that is still in the hands of the Polish community.
Polish beers Żywiec and Okocim and German beer from the Warsteiner brewery were served. At the same time, you could buy large, liter mugs with the inscription “Warsteiner – Das Einzig Wahre” (Warsteiner – The One Truth). There were 20 of them and all of them were quickly purchased by Oktoberfest participants. The Warsteiner Brewery was founded in 1753 and today is one of the largest private breweries in Germany. This beer is available in over 60 countries around the world.
Great Polish food was also served (stuffed cabbage, fried chicken, ribs, bigos, and Polish cakes), so no one was hungry. And DJ Vox Polonia got everyone on the dance floor. The atmosphere was great and it was sad to say goodbye. But next year we will meet again in this place… Over a beer, of course.
It is worth recalling that the world’s largest and most popular Oktoberfest is organized in Munich, Germany. This year it started on September 16 and ended on October 3. Every year, Oktoberfest attracts 6.5 million visitors to Munich’s famous Theresienwiese in 34 tents. According to statistics, over 5 million gles of beer and 400,000 pork sausages are consumed. This event is also celebrated in many cities around the world.
However, few people are aware that this largest beer festival in the world is actually… another wedding anniversary. On October 12, 1810, the Duke of Bavaria, the future King Ludwig I of Bavaria, married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. To celebrate this joyful event, the royal family organized a public celebration in a large meadow then outside the city, which lasted five days. In 1896, large beer tents were erected on Wies’n (Theresienwiese) for the first time, attracting tourists and many residents.
Despite the page of time, several very precise rules are still followed during Oktoberfest. The brewers are the first to arrive. Then comes the procession, led by the brewers’ families on floats decorated with flowers. The parade closes with other decorated vehicles with waitresses holding the famous mugs. The celebration can only begin when the mayor of Munich opens the first keg of beer, announcing “O’zapft is” (the beer is drawn).
Oktoberfest is an opportunity to dress up in traditional costumes: “Lederhose” – the famous leather breeches for men and “Dirndl” – dresses with puffed sleeves for women. Under the tents, the center of attention is the beer served and roasted pork shanks. Guests sing and dance to the rhythm of traditional Bavarian music played by various orchestras.
PHOTOS: JANUSZ M. SZLECHTA