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A Bit of Bavarian Merrymaking Comes to El Cerrito

A lively afternoon of Bavarian music, folk-dancing and feasting popped up at El Cerrito Plaza Saturday as The Junket hosted it annual Oktoberfest celebration that spilled out of the deli and onto sidewalk and sunny parking lot.

The tables were full and the spirits merry Saturday afternoon as The Junket deli in El Cerrito Plaza held its annual Oktoberfest celebration with live music on the sidewalk and folkdancing in the parking lot.

German beer was flowing, and a generous "special" of Bavarian food – sausage, red cabbage, sauerkraut, German potato salad and a pretzel – could be had for $7.95.

Providing the music on accordion and dressed like he could be sitting at a cafe in Munich for the 16-day Oktoberfest festival now underway there was Karl Lebherz of American Canyon.

Also in Bavarian costumes were members of the Enzian Folkdancers, who performed in a marked-off section of the parking lot in front of the deli.

Hosting Oktoberfest is annual tradition at The Junket, which is known for specializing in British and German foods and drinks. It has been owned and operated by Cindy and Bruno Frisch at the Plaza for more than 30 years.

And if anyone wonders why Oktoberfest celebrations start in September, and not in October, here's an explanation from what looks to be the official Oktoberfest website:

Why is Oktoberfest called "Oktober"-fest when it actually begins in September?

The historical background: the first Oktoberfest was held in the year 1810 in honor of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities began on October 12, 1810 and ended on October 17th with a horse race. In the following years, the celebrations were repeated and, later, the festival was prolonged and moved forward into September.

By moving the festivities up, it allowed for better weather conditions. Because the September nights were warmer, the visitors were able to enjoy the gardens outside the tents and the stroll over "die Wiesen" or the fields much longer without feeling chilly. Historically, the last Oktoberfest weekend was in October and this tradition continues into present times.

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