When German immigrants settled in the United States, they found comfort in familiar acts: gathering for a beer, eating bratwurst and sauerkraut, and singing traditional tunes. Nearly 200 years later, most of Evansville’s German families have been entrenched in the community for generations. They still celebrate their ancestors’ traditions every year at Volksfest (August 5-7).
Organizers expect 10,000 festival patrons to empty 230 kegs of beer and devour 2,400 pounds of bratwurst, 10,000 kraut balls, and 2,000 pounds of pig knuckles. The latter may sound gruesome, but don’t be fooled: “It took me 11 years to eat one,” confesses Volksfest co-chair Tom Memmer. “It tastes just like ham.”
Volksfest is hosted by singing club Germania Mannerchor, which was founded in 1900. The club’s historic home on Fulton Avenue sets the scene for three days of Deutsch music, food, dancing, traditional costumes, and beer aplenty.
Performing in the second-floor dance hall is Rhein Valley Brass (Germania’s house band), and livening up the outdoor biergarten — with a tent modeled after Munich’s Oktoberfest — is the Schnapps Band from Cincinnati. After playing traditional German music, the band’s set list switches to “rock and roll with a German flair,” says festival co-chair Jim Kluesner. (Think accordions.)