Sommerfest highlights German heritage

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A sense of family, community, tradition and culture awaited the hundreds that attended The German American Societies of San Diego in El Cajon for its yearly annual Open House and Sommerfest on Aug. 23. Held at its outdoor Biergarten, the evening filled the air with folk dancing, live music and traditional German food.

A sense of family, community, tradition and culture awaited the hundreds that attended The German American Societies of San Diego in El Cajon for its yearly annual Open House and Sommerfest on Aug. 23. Held at its outdoor Biergarten, the evening filled the air with folk dancing, live music and traditional German food.

With the live music styles of Express leading the crowd with everything from German folk music to its own renditions of American music, people filled the dance floor the entire evening. In between performances by the Kindertanzgruppe and Alpine Folk Dancers, the German Children’s Dance Group thoroughly entertained the crowd with their own dances. Many people were dressed in lederhosen, traditional German folk dresses, and many brought their own beer steins, each remarkably crafted different in design and meaning.

A precursor to its upcoming Oktoberfest, this open house gave many people the opportunity to see all the things that the German American Societies has to offer to its members. But it was much more than that. It was an occasion for everyone to celebrate their German heritage.

One of the organizers of the children’s dance troupe, Tanja Sawicki said she grew up in the club.

“Yes, my claim to fame here is that I made my first appearance at this club when my mother had her baby shower,” she said.

Sawicki said as a child, she grew up dancing in the German Children’s Dance Group until she left the region for a while. She said when she moved back, she had children of her own and decided she wanted to be part of the group again and help it grow. She eagerly cheered the children that ranged from toddlers to teenagers as the performed many of the same dances to the songs she danced to growing up.

“That is what this event is all about,” she said. “It gives a chance for non-members to see what we are all about and see the real atmosphere of the German culture here. You will find Germans that just came to the states, to second, third and fourth generation Germans here. Many of us speak German, and it is taught to the children as well. Mostly through families, but we have German classes here and there are other resources in the community that give anyone the opportunity to learn the language it they want to.”

Though there has been a strong German presence in the region for more than 100 years, the German American Societies was born in 1965 and has grown since. It has many activities for all ages including its women’s group Damenkreis, a German school, choir and Skat Players. It also hosts several celebrations throughout the year including its famous Ocktoberfest and Karneval (Mardi Gras).

For more information on the many services that the German American Societies of San Diego offers, and how to become a member, visit germanglubsandiego.org.

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