HGIA: Oktoberfest, Oak Park, Illinois

Image courtesy of Prof. Philip V. Bohlman, University of Chicago.

Oktoberfests have become signature fall events in about 200 communities across the U.S. and Canada. Awash in beer, pretzels, the chicken dance, and the Schnitzelbank song, the now typical American Oktoberfest is less a celebration of German heritage—real or imagined— than it is the expression of a dynamic and culturally diverse local identity. In the festival from Oak Park, Illinois, depicted here, cultural diversity is represented by musical groups as different as Jimmy’s Bavarians, Bumble Bee Bob and the Stingers, and Koko Taylor and Her Blues Machine.

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