German music and more on tap at Saengerbund's Oktoberfest

Published on Thursday, 14 September 2017 19:45
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

NEWINGTON - Amidst an exciting day colored by several events in town, local German residents hope their festivities aren’t left out.

The Hartford Sänger-bund’s Oktoberfest is set for Saturday, Sept. 23, from 1 to 9 p.m. at the German club, located at 719 North Mountain Road.

It just so happens that the annual Newington Waterfall Festival and the Newington Volunteer Fire Department’s 100th Anniversary Parade are also set to take place that Saturday. Members pointed out that people might even consider attending all three events for a day of celebration.

Authentic German culture will be in abundance at the Oktoberfest. Much anticipated is a visit from the widely popular TubaFrau Hofbrau, an oompah band that travels all over the country to perform its lively Eastern European dance music. Some songs will feature the Alpine horn.

“They’ve never been to our club before; I just can’t wait to hear them,” First Vice President Dennis Herner said.

The ensemble is also looking forward to its visit to Newington. According to Herner, they’ve already provided the club with sing-along sheet music.

“They want everybody to have a good time,” he pointed out.

The Hartford Sänger-bund is the oldest continuously-operating German-American society in New England. It is also one of the oldest German singing societies in the states. Because of this longstanding reputation and members’ personal ties to Germany, they often host special visitors from the home country.

“Dennis has been instrumental with finding us some new bands we’ve never had before,” President Amy Swank said. “We expect to have two groups coming from Germany next year.”

“It’s so neat to have contact with the people over there,” Herner added. “It’s like filling in the holes of the stuff we’ve missed.”

Some of the older members were born in Germany. Every Friday night the dining room is a picture of the old country. Delights like wursts and kraut are for sale on an alternating menu each week.

A group of older gentlemen is usually playing the card game “Skat” in one corner, in their native tongue, of course. On a cart beside them sit their favorite imported beers. If they’re lucky, the younger folks might be invited to sit in and learn the game.

“We have dedicated skat players here every week,” Swank said. “Now they’re teaching the game to our American members and its gaining popularity.”

Swank was raised in a Pennsylvania Dutch community, accustomed to German traditions passed along by her relatives and neighbors. Herner was also surrounded by this heritage in his native Ohio.

Both president and first vice president can hold his or her own in the kitchen. Swank is famous for her homemade German cakes in every variety, topped with Schlag, a whipped cream frosting.

“They are amazing,” Herner said. “We don’t allow boxed cakes here.”

Perhaps the club’s most sought-after creation is its potato pancakes, also handmade.

“We’re probably most famous for our potato pancakes,” Herner explained. “People will stand in line for 45 minutes to get them.”

They will be plentiful at Oktoberfest, along with the cakes. Wursts (sausages), sauerkraut (cabbage) and lots of other dishes will also be served.

At the end of the day, after the fryer has been turned off and the Aldersbacher tapped out, there’s only one hope.

“Basically all we’re trying to do is preserve our German culture and tradition,” Swank said.

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or

If you go:

WHAT: Oktoberfest

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 23 from 1 to 9 p.m.

WHERE: Hartford Sängerbund, 719 N. Mountain Rd., Newington

HOW: Admission is $5 for adults, children under 12 get in free

Upcoming events at the Hartford Sängerbund:

Sept. 23 – Oktoberfest

Nov. 4 – Schlachtfest

Nov. 24-26 – Christkindlmarkt

Dec. 15 – Christmas concert and dinner

For more information visit or call 860-953-8967

Posted in Newington Town Crier, Newington News on Thursday, 14 September 2017 19:45. Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2017 19:47.