Richmond Oktoberfest

600 East Laburnum Avenue
Richmond, VA 23234

804-342-0310

History:

The idea for the Richmond Oktoberfest first occurred to Mr. Edwin Lohmann after he attended the Munich Oktoberfest in Germany in 1965.  Ed had already become aware of the popularity of this festival among American GI's when he was stationed in Bavaria (8 years prior to 1965), but the Army would not grant him leave to attend during those years of military service. While president of the Gesangverein Virginia (GV) in 1967, Ed presented the idea to his Vice-President, Mr. Frederick (Fritz) Schwenk. Fritz was born in Bavaria and had attended the Munich Oktoberfest in 1933 before immigrating to the United States.  Fritz then suggested to Ed that they bring the Deutscher Sportclub Richmond (DSC) into their discussion to start a Richmond Oktoberfest patterned after the Munich festival.  Ed said that his response to Fritz was, "I think that's a damn good idea."

In 1968, a planning meeting was held between GV President Ed Lohmann, GV Vice-President Frederic (Fritz) Schwenk, DSC President Adolph Naujokat, and past DSC President Erich Albus. These gentlemen had previously attended a Gesangverein (men's singing society) party at the old Virginia Inn on North Chamberlayne Avenue, where they came upon the idea that the people of Richmond should be let in on all of this "Gemütlichkeit" (cozy, homelike, snug, informal, good-natured) fun. So, for several months thereafter, they schemed together with some of their cohorts on how to get their idea accomplished. Soon, the plan was complete.

The plan, of course, was to show the people of Richmond all of this good natured fun. So in 1969, the first Oktoberfest of Richmond was held at the old Holiday Inn (The Abbey) on Robin Hood Road. Ed, Fritz, Adolph, and Erich, secured the financing for this event from and through the Gesangverein Virginia and the Deutscher Sports Club Richmond (German-American Sports Club) which still co-sponsor the Oktoberfest of Richmond. The first Oktoberfest of Richmond exceeded all expectations with almost 500 people in attendance. Beer steins were given to all paying attendees and this tradition has continued each year, A note of interest is that no date was on the first stein because no one knew at that time if the event would continue. Now after 45 years, the Oktoberfest of Richmond has grown from the 500 people in 1969 to about 4500 people over two nights now. Fritz Schwenk had the banner made that was used at the 1969 Oktoberfest and the official beer was Richbrau. This first banner, still used today as the official Oktoberfest banner, was designed by Mr. Adolf Naujokat. Ed Lohmann, Adolph Naujokat, Erich Albus, and Fritz Schwenk, were members of both, the Virginia Gesangverein, and the Deutscher Sport Club. Adolph, Fritz and Erich were Presidents of the Deutscher Sport Club.

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