Oktoberfest in Hays, KS
A VOLGA GERMAN TRADITION
Community members of Hays, Kansas have held an Oktoberfest celebration full of its Volga Germans’ heritage and their historically rich community since 1973. The event was cultivated from a partnership between Fort Hays State University, the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce and locals with German heritage. Oktoberfest traditionally falls on the weekend of Fort Hays State University’s Homecoming festivities to allow locals and alumni the chance to celebrate the community, its' history, and relish in the memories Hays provided them with all in one weekend. The festival includes traditional food, beer, music, international cultures, and most recently, a family-friendly environment with various activities for children. Every year thousands of patrons attend to partake in the traditional food and fun, and each year the event’s success grows beyond our wildest expectations.
The initial organizers of Oktoberfest in Hays sought to emulate Munich, Germany’s internationally-known festival, whose history extends through centuries. The wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen occasioned the first Oktoberfest in the year of 1810. The couple invited the citizens of Munich to accompany the wedding party in feasting, drinking, and dancing in a nearby field, now called the Theresienwiese (Theresa’s fields) in honor of the bride. The event was such a success that it became an annual gathering including horse racing, agricultural exhibitions, and a carnival still held today.