MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Get ready to put on some lederhosen, hoist a beer stein and dance the schuhplattler.
The German American Cultural Center’s (GACC) 63rd annual Deutscher Tag festival is returning to Macomb Township on Aug. 11. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the township’s Austrian Park, which is located along Hayes Road between 25 Mile and 26 Mile roads.
According to Eckart Leitner, chairman of the festival, “This is an event for people to celebrate German traditions and culture. It’s a good day for everyone to get together and socialize and have a good time.”
Leitner pointed out that Deutscher Tag, which typically attracts between 800 and 1,000 guests each year, also serves as a fundraiser for the Wayne State University scholarship fund for German studies, which helps send students overseas to study abroad in Germany. Admission to the event includes a $3 donation per person over the age of 16, with all proceeds benefiting the Wayne State program.
The festival is one of the signature events held each year by the GACC. The Sterling Heights-based organization serves the metro Detroit community by supporting people of German heritage and their allies via cultural, social, educational, athletic, charitable and civic activities. Currently boasting about 180 members, the GACC functions as an umbrella group for 13 affiliated clubs of German, Austrian and Swiss origins.
According to Marianne Krenzer, president of the GACC, Deutscher Tag “has a lot of different things for people to enjoy. It mostly draws people of German descent who want to hear German music and eat German food. There’s a comfort level here because you’re around people from a similar background who all speak the (German) language.”
While the festival technically begins at 10 a.m. with a series of organized soccer games on the park fields, Leitner said that things will not truly get underway until around 3 p.m. At that time, a short kickoff ceremony will take place, featuring introductions and speeches from members of the GACC.
Guests will then be invited to dance to the traditional German music of the four-man band Rheinlaender, who will be complemented by the accordion duo Herb and Herb. There will also be performances by the German dancing groups Bavarian Edelweiss and the Carpathia Club’s youth group.
Meanwhile, the kitchen and bar will offer a selection of delicious German food that includes bratwurst, goulash, sauerkraut, potato salad and various desserts. There will be a number of German beers and wines on hand to choose from, as well as pop and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Plenty of entertainment will be provided for the little ones, as well. A children’s parade will be held around 4 p.m., while a moon bouncer, clowns, games, balloon animals and various crafts tables will be available all afternoon.
To get in the Deutscher Tag spirit, all guests are invited to dress in traditional German attire and enjoy the “Gemuetlichkeit,” a word that describes a fun, cheerful social gathering. Leitner believes that the Austrian Park provides the perfect ambiance for such a celebration.
“The park is a very beautiful setting — a really nice atmosphere for our festival,” he said. “It’s kind of hidden away in a private area, which is exactly what we want for a low-key event like this.”
For Krenzer, Deutscher Tag stands as an ideal example of how ethnic festivals can help minority groups maintain their identity in an ever-evolving world.
“We’re always trying to figure out ways to hang on to our culture and our traditions in the future,” she said. “We’re not trying to separate ourselves from everyone else, but we do want to remember where we came from. People need to realize that America truly is a global country now.”
For more information on Deutscher Tag, visit the GACC website at www.germanamericanmetrodetroit.org.
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