Detroit church invites public for 13th annual Oktoberfest celebration

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published September 14, 2018

 The Oktoberfest celebration on Sunday, Sept. 23, will include games, music, food, drinks and German beer.

The Oktoberfest celebration on Sunday, Sept. 23, will include games, music, food, drinks and German beer.

Photo provided by Jacqueline Lee

 St. Joseph Oratory Church in Detroit is hosting the event.

St. Joseph Oratory Church in Detroit is hosting the event.

Photo provided by Jacqueline Lee

 Among the attractions will be the stein-holding contest to see who can hold a stein full of beer the longest.

Among the attractions will be the stein-holding contest to see who can hold a stein full of beer the longest.

Photo provided by Jacqueline Lee

HARPER WOODS — St. Joseph Oratory Church is inviting the public to grab a stein and put on their lederhosen for its 13th annual Oktoberfest celebration.

The event will take place on Sunday, Sept. 23, beginning with a Mass at 11 a.m. inside the church, 1828 Jay St. The festival itself will begin at 12:30 p.m. and last until 8:30 p.m. Church administrators view this as a means of celebrating the church’s history as well as welcoming in the greater community.

“Oktoberfest began back in the 1800s and we continue that tradition as a way to celebrate the German heritage of the parish,” said Jacqueline Lee, St. Joseph Oratory’s outreach director. “It’s a wonderful event where the community can come together and enjoy some Detroit history at the historic German church. Through the auctions and other events, people can support the restoration (of the church).”

Event organizer Theresa Chisholm hopes people will come and enjoy the opportunity to share in the history of St. Joseph’s and take in German culture.

“Oktoberfest was started in Munich, and when I think of it, it’s a fun fall festival celebrating fall and German culture,” said Chisholm. “There will be imported Bavarian beer, good food, good drinks and hopefully good fall weather.”

Chisholm said the Oktoberfest celebration at St. Joseph’s began as a modest day of music but blossomed into more of a community event as more people joined in.

“Oktoberfest is a very fun, enjoyable event for the whole family,” she said. “It takes place in the shadow of our beautiful 1873 Gothic church. There are activities all day. We have an authentic Bavarian band and dancers, and we will be finishing with some Motown hits from band Billy and Fast Forward Entertainment. … Thirteen years ago, it started off as a concert of German choirs and a dinner. It was a small beginning. Every year, it grew and changed as the numbers grew and people became more involved with it.”

Lee elaborated on the attractions. 

“The festival begins at 12:30 p.m., and from 1 to 5 p.m. there will be dancers and singers in the big tent,” said Lee. “At 2 p.m., there is the second annual stein-holding contest — where you have to hold a pint of beer, and the person who can hold their arm straight out the longest wins — and the Notre Dame Prep Jazz Band will be performing at 5 p.m., and there will be children’s activities from 1 to 4 p.m. … There will be a German clothing sale, German goods booths, a tour of the church, a classical music concert and vespers, which are evening prayers, which everyone is welcome to join.”

Chisholm said Oktoberfest gives the St. Joseph community a chance to show off its musical tradition.

“St. Joseph has a very rich history of music, and music has always been a part of the life of the church,” she said. “Music is still very much a big part of it. We are having an orchestral performance during the Mass; there will be a concert later in the day and music going on outside. It will be a nice celebration of German culture and a fun time for families.”

Admission and parking for the festival are free. Those attending can purchase tickets for food, beer and other things inside. Money raised from the event will benefit restoration efforts for the church and its grounds. It is part of an ongoing fundraising effort the church has had throughout the last several years.

“We’re nearing the end of the first year of the campaign, and we are getting close to our $1 million goal for the first year,” Chisholm said. “The first major project is putting slats back on the steeple, which is now only wrapped in a black tarp. The other restoration we are hoping to follow this with is fixing up the parking lot next to the rectory. It was never designed to be a parking lot, and work will improve the state of the grounds. We also want to make sure there are no water leaks in the stonework of the church.”

More information on the event can be found at www.stjosephoratory.org by clicking on the “Oktoberfest” tab.