WHEN it comes to unbridled merriment, few events in Penang can match the Malaysian-German Society’s (MGS) annual Oktoberfest.
The combination of delicious food, plentiful drinks and upbeat music have brought people from all walks of life together for almost half a century.
This year was no different as some 2,500 thronged the event over two nights and had a jolly good time with the Frankenrauber brass band from Wurzburg in Bavaria belting out “oom-pah” numbers.
This included the obligatory Ein Prosit der Gemutlichkeit, which exhorted the crowd to raise their large beer steins and gulp down frothy beer.
There were plentiful helpings of bratwurst, meatloaf, ham, sauerkraut, knoedel, pretzel and cake to go with that.
Some men sported traditional lederhosens while the ladies wore dirndls. Prizes went to the best-dressed.
There were also arm-wrestling and beer-drinking contests.
As the dance floor filled up, revelers engaged in a bit of schunkeln or swaying to the music.
Friends and strangers alike joined a polonaise dance, putting their hands on the shoulders of the person in front and snaking their way around the event tent.
Organising chairperson Petra Muller said such joyful scenes had played out every year at the MGS premises in Jalan Air Itam since 1973, except for 2020 and 2021 when the festival took a hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Since it was first initiated here by our former president and honorary member Jurgen Friele, Oktoberfest has become MGS’ biggest event.
“I thank everyone for coming to celebrate with us tonight, as well as all the sponsors and volunteers who made it possible,” she said.
Penang tourism and creative economy committee chairman Wong Hon Wai said the festival also fostered stronger ties between the German expatriate community and Penangites.
“Oktoberfest is more than merry-making. It is a significant cultural event that brings everyone together and is testament to Penang’s diverse cosmopolitan heritage.
“Besides this, we also have the Japanese Bon Odori and Yosakoi parade, Latin American Film Festival and Irish St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“Our community embraces and celebrates cultures from around the world.
“This enriches our lives and provides a warm and welcoming environment for visitors,” added Wong, who earlier tapped a beer keg to launch the event.
Also present on opening night were German Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Peter Blomeyer, Honorary Consul of Germany in Penang Datuk Hans Brenner and MGS president Dr Wolfgang Mark.