Falling into Festivities: As Munich’s 16-day OktoberFest approaches, Carmel prepares to celebrate the festival in Indiana.



OKTOBER FUN: OktoberFest attendees cheer for the band performing onstage. This year, the polka band Polka Boys will be performing in Carmel for the celebration.

Manahil Nadeem

The polka band plays in the background as the sounds of German music and the smells of German food fill the city square.

“It’s OktoberFest in Carmel,” Vanessa Stiles, the event planner for  Carmel’s OktoberFest, said. 

OktoberFest was originally a celebration of a prince and a princess, according to Laura King, German teacher and German club sponsor.

“The prince and princess of Bavaria were getting married, so the town had this huge celebration,” King said. “Especially in the 1800s, when someone, like the prince or princess (got married), it was a big deal so celebrations would go on for days. The celebration was extremely well-received by the townspeople, so they decided to keep celebrating their anniversary each year afterwards.”

According to King, Germans originally celebrated OktoberFest in October, but they rescheduled it because of Germany’s rainy season. In present day, the festival starts in mid-October and ends in the beginning of November.

Two OktoberFest attendees dance together during the festivities. A popular trademark of OktoberFest is the beer that is served at noon to officially commence celebrations. However, Carmel’s OktoberFest is open to the public and all ages.

This year, Carmel’s annual OktoberFest festival is tomorrow on the upper plaza of the Carmel City Center, according to Vanessa Stiles, OktoberFest event planner and head of Victory Sun event planning.

“Carmel’s OktoberFest is an opportunity to celebrate a fun part of the German culture,” Stiles said. “It is also an opportunity to welcome one of central Indiana’s favorite bands, the Polka Boys, to Carmel.”

In Carmel, OktoberFest is a family-friendly festival where people are encouraged to enjoy food, entertainment and fall fun at the Palladium and the Center Green.

“It’s almost like OktoberFest is that last summer celebration, where everyone is surrounded by family and friends and just have a good time,” Stiles said.

According to Stiles, planning for OktoberFest takes around one year.

“This is a cooperative effort between the Carmel City Center and the city, but the planning for this event takes around a year,” Stiles said.  “This includes contacting the band and reserving the upper plaza at the city center.”

Stiles said the festival aims to celebrate the city’s beauty and German culture.

“We’re celebrating German culture and Carmel beauty at the same time and it combines to make this beautiful event for all ages,” Stiles said.

OKTOBER FUN: OktoberFest attendees cheer for the band performing onstage. This year, the polka band Polka Boys will be performing in Carmel for the celebration.

While the main inspiration of the Carmel festival is the Munich festival, German exchange student living in Carmel for four weeks, Svenja Kelles, said the festival in Munich is a  real example of authentic German culture.

“The Munich festival is filled with German dances and German foods,” Kelles said. “During OktoberFest, most German people eat sausage and fish on the stick.”

While Kelles has never been to the Carmel festival, she has been to the Munich festival twice.

“There are a lot of amusement rides and activities happening throughout the day,” Kelles said. “While people do drink lots of beer, that’s not the only thing that is happening.”

Because of these common misconceptions, King likes to teach her German students the authentic traditions of OktoberFest. 

“My German IV students are required to do three outside cultural activities during the semester, so I’m usually on the lookout for German type activities happening close by,” King said. “I’ve seen a couple of celebration around here but it’s usually just an excuse to drink beer and the only relation to OktoberFest are the colors: blue and white.”

According to King, in German II classes, she takes an entire period to explain the history and culture behind OktoberFest.

“I usually teach my class about the history behind the prince and the princess and some of the key traditions that happen at the festival,” King said. “The lesson usually follows a German food day where they try some of the food that would be at a traditional OktoberFest.”

“Essentially, OktoberFest is a festival, where friends and family are supposed to celebrate their German culture together,” King said.