September 30, 2011

Make Oktoberfest your fest

Beer and Oktoberfest are commonly associated words for good reason — Munich's 16-plus day celebration traditionally begins with the proclamation "O zapft is!" or "it's tapped," and features local beers, consuming in total 6 million gallons. 200 years after its establishment, Oktoberfest continues to be filled with the bold colors, costumed parades, entertainment, and delectables than livened the city.

However, the mission of Oktoberfest is far greater than beer — this festival is the promotion of local agriculture and thus the importance of citizenship, a chance to give thanks and share the gains of a year, and to reconnect with neighbors with live with and pass by everyday. These two weeks were the weeks to put routine on pause and celebrate community.

Hyde Park brings such an opportunity to our backyard. This Saturday, October 1st, Oktoberfest returns. Booths, beer, and live music will be across 53rd street, spanning from Blackstone to Kimbark.

This annual festival is part of the "Celebrate Hyde Park" series, organized by the South East Chicago Commission, and has attracted 30,000 people from across Chicago in the past. Other events in this series include: Winterfest (early December), Mayfest (mid May), and Hyde Park Music Fest (late July).

The plan for this Saturday is to expand on last year's success — attendees will enjoy a variety of live bands, arts and crafts vendors, local stores, diverse cultural foods, a pumpkin patch, many children's activities (including games, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides), and without fail the usual beer garden and dancing in the street.

Though Oktoberfest is located within ten blocks of the University, student awareness attendance has typically been low. This year, the SECC takes another step in making the invitation of community open too — a band from campus, Lakesigns, is performing. From 12-6:30 p.m., bands will perform in this order: Rhythm Revolution (drum circle), Juzt Nutz, Lakesigns, DeTour, Chicago Catz, and Funkadesi. The SECC, and our University's Office of Civic Engagement hopes to see increased student volunteerism and performance in coming events.

In our daily bustle, we often forget to look outside, but never forget where you are. Hyde Park is more than the location your school happens to be. It is a community, with its own characters, art festivals, musicians, children and history. Drop by and stay a while.

Angela Wang is a second-year in the college and serves as Student Government's Community and Government Liaison.