On a splendidly sunny Thanksgiving Day, I found myself among the throngs of people lining King St. in Kitchener. We basked in the fine autumn weather as we viewed one of the most spectacular Thanksgiving Day parades in Canada. Where else can you enjoy colourful floats, award-winning marching bands from across our nation and the U.S. plus square dancing tractors? Yes, you read that right – square dancing tractors!

oktoberfest3.lovethiscitytv (Photo Cred: Joanne Madden)

The annual 5 kilometre parade is a reflection of the pride that the people of Kitchen-Waterloo have in their community. Firefighters, police officers, farmers, a radio station and the local hockey team (the Kitchener Rangers) were all represented. As the morning festivities drew to a close, the last major float appeared featuring a gigantic “Horn of Plenty.” The spectators waved and cheered enthusiastically.

oktoberfest2.lovethiscitytv (Photo Cred: Joanne Madden)

After the parade, as the crowd dispersed, I made my way to the Oktoberfest souvenir shop. The store was packed with people buying an array of Bavarian hats with feathers, pins, postcards and large porcelain beer steins. This was my first visit to Oktoberfest and to get into the spirit of the occasion, perhaps even to discover my inner Bavarian, I purchased a green felt hat with a black feather. Now I was ready for lunch at the cavernous Concordia Club, the hub of Kitchener-Waterloo’s popular nine-day festival since 1967. With a seating capacity of almost 4,000, it was buzzing with activity and good cheer.

oktoberfest1.lovethiscitytv (Photo Cred: Joanne Madden)

I quickly discovered that you don’t have to be of German background and you don’t have to like beer to enjoy yourself at the Concordia Club. I have no German ancestry and I have never acquired a taste for beer. I prefer wine instead. So, I had a glass of the grape and lunched on a bratwurst sandwich with sauerkraut and some potato salad. There were rows of long tables filled with people imbibing beer from plastic Molson Canadian cups.

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After lunch, it was time to “roll out the barrel.” In one room, the crowd was entertained by a band called the Edelweiss Trio. The sprawling dance floor was filled with people of all ages and all shapes and sizes. They swayed to the sounds of polkas and novelty tunes such as “The Bird Song.” I noted, however, that there were very few members of visible minority groups in attendance.

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In another room, Okoberfest revellers were regaled with the music of the Black Forest Band which performed the Black-Eyed Peas’ hit “I Gotta Feeling” and the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” along with the more traditional “Pennsylvania Polka.” Children and adults alike displayed broad smiles as they swung their partners across the floor or chanted “Tonight’s gonna be a good night” along with the band.


Kitchener-Waterloo’s Oktoberfest is the largest Bavarian festival outside of Germany and contributes $21 million annually in economic benefits to the Waterloo Region. The event has more than 480 volunteers throughout the year and 1,300 community and service club volunteers. It’s great fun and it continued until Tuesday, October 19th.

By: Joanne Madden
Connect with Joanne on Twitter – @TorontoJM

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