Theresa Crosby, 46, is only seven weeks into her new job as the Deutsches Haus executive director, but she’s attended their Oktoberfest for more than 20 years. To her, it’s a can’t-miss New Orleans institution, and the 10,000 to 15,000 annual attendees seem to agree.
“There’s a word I didn’t even know until I went to work for Deutsches Haus: ‘Gemütlichkeit,’ ” Crosby said. “There is no exact English translation, but it means warmth, friendliness, camaraderie, spirit — all those words rolled into one.”
This year the Deutsches Haus again celebrates Gemütlichkeit: German culture, tradition, language and heritage, returning to Kenner’s Rivertown for the fourth time. Every Friday and Saturday from Oct. 9 through Oct. 24, the festival will be open to willing participants.
Kenner Mayor Michael S. Yenni will tap a keg to open the festival at 6 p.m. Oct. 9.
Activities at this year’s Oktoberfest include the fourth annual Dachshund Dash at 3:45 p.m. Oct. 24, a beer stein holding competition each day of the festival, the Oktoberfest 5K Run/Walk at 5 p.m. Oct. 10, and a historical booth that will describe the history of Oktoberfest, the history of Germans in Louisiana and famous Germans throughout history.
The festival will also offer kid-friendly undertakings.
“It’s called Kids Korner,” Crosby explained, “and we’ll have arts and crafts, games, face painting, puppets, and we’ll have animals like miniature horses. There’s going to be a lot for the children as well as the older folk who want to come out and see the great music and culture of Oktoberfest.”
German food and beer-wise, the sky’s the limit. A signature brew will be created by 40 Arpent Brewing Co. for Deutsches’ Haus’ Oktoberfest celebration.
The freshly formed ASAP Pretzels will bake 12-inch pretzels that they’ll offer with a beer-cheese sauce, and St. James Cheese Company will have a booth where they will offer various German cheeses for the first time.
Other food offerings include: beef-filled cabbage rolls, German-style meatloaf with mushroom sauce, beef sauerbraten, fried pork schnitzel with jäger sauce or mushroom sauce, roasted pork loin with black cherry sauce and black beer glazed smoked pork loin. There are also many German sides available, like sauerkraut, red cabbage, creamed potatoes and the Deutsches Haus specialty of warm German potato salad with bacon.
A sponsorship from Usinger promises a surplus of sausages, from bratwurst to Weisswurst, and there will be plenty of familiar favorites for the less gastronomically experimental with offerings like chicken nuggets, corn nuggets and French fries.
Most exciting for those over 21 could be Warsteiner’s sponsorship of the festival. Warsteiner, a German brewery from the 18th century, will help provide the 16 different German beers that will be available.
“That’s what you get when you go out to Oktoberfest,” said Crosby. “You get that great feeling of having good food; great oompah music as well as a great beer, if you like beer; great wine, if you like wine; and schnapps, if you like schnapps.”
Though Kenner has been a wonderful partner for the past five years, Crosby said Deutsches Haus still hopes to return to New Orleans soon.
Their former building was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and then expropriated to make way for the medical complex in Mid-City.
That building had been their headquarters since 1928, but they are working on a new one.
“We hope to return to New Orleans at our Moss Street location,” Crosby said, describing the building in Bayou St. John they plan to center future Oktoberfests around. “The architectural drawings have been designed, they’re approved by the city planning commission and we hope to break ground sometime late next year with completion at the end of 2017.”
Crosby said the best way to help Deutsches Haus return to New Orleans is by attending Oktoberfest.
“For the folks who haven’t been to Oktoberfest in Rivertown and are waiting for us to return to New Orleans, I implore them to come out to Rivertown and Kenner to show us their support. Every dollar that they spend helps us return to New Orleans quicker.”