German Fest

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German Fest
Slogan Milwaukee's original Haus Party
Location Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Coordinates 43°01′55″N 87°53′56″W / 43.032°N 87.899°W / 43.032; -87.899Coordinates: 43°01′55″N 87°53′56″W / 43.032°N 87.899°W / 43.032; -87.899
Theme German Ethnic festival
Opened July 24, 1981 (1981-07-24)

German Fest is an ethnic festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the Henry Maier Festival Park, on the Lake Michigan lakefront.[1] The genesis of German Fest occurred when Mayor Henry Maier challenged the local German-American community during a speech on May 20, 1980, at the 20th Anniversary of the German American National Congress (DANK) to organize a German festival.[2] Shortly thereafter, Walter Geissler, then President of D.A.N.K., chaired a committee of five members that laid the foundation for the Fest.[2] The charter of German Fest was subsequently written in January 1981. The first German Fest was held in August 1981.[3] It is billed as the "Largest German celebration in North America"[4] and "Milwaukee’s Original Haus Party".[2] It currently occurs during the last full weekend in July.[5] As of 1993, Milwaukee had a 52% German population, which is the largest European percentage in a major U.S. metropolitan area.[1]

German Fest celebrates the culture, food, travel, and history of Germany,[6] as well as Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, South Tyrol, and German-speaking communities around the world. Along with traditional music, many from the Europe also make the journey to perform and educate at the festival. The Junge Kameraden Band from Plymouth High School led by the highly acclaimed band director, Jason Sebranek, traditionally performs at German Fest annually.

One attraction is the cultural tent, where one can see the various groups, including both former and current provinces that proudly call themselves "German." They range from Bavarians (Bayern), and Hessians (Hessen), to other German speaking nations like the Austrians (Österreich), and groups displaced by World War II whose homelands are now located in Poland (Polen) and the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (Tschechoslowakei & Jugoslawien).

In the center area of the grounds a parade periodically passes by, showcasing 38 German-American heritage organizations,[5] local German immersion schools, and others celebrating their German heritage.

German cuisine is also featured at German Fest.[2] Many well-known German restaurants and food services in the area are present at the fest, including Mader’s, and Bavarian Inn, as well as the biggest sausage maker in Milwaukee, Usinger's. Usinger's celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2005, in a joint anniversary of German Fest’s 25th anniversary.


  1. ^ a b Puhala, Bob (July 18, 1993). "All This and Wiener Dogs, Too // German Fest Is Set to Celebrate Milwaukee's Oompah Heritage". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d "30 Years of Milwaukee’s Original Haus Party". German Missions in the United States. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Milwaukee County History 1980–Present". Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Beer, music call at German Fest". Toledo Blade. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "German Clubs and Societies". German American National Congress. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Gemutlichkeit in Wisconsin". Los Angeles Times. July 23, 1995. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 

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