Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is an annual nine-day festival in the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Based on the original German Oktoberfest, it is billed as Canada's Greatest Bavarian Festival, and is the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world. It is held every October, starting on the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving and running until the Saturday after and attracts an estimated 750,000-1,000,000 visitors every year.

While its best-known draws are the beer-based celebrations, other cultural and entertainment attractions also fill the week. The most well-known is the parade held on Thanksgiving Day; as the only major parade on Canadian Thanksgiving, it is televised throughout Canada and portions of the northern United States on CTV. In 2009, on the Thanksgiving Day parade there were 150,000 visitors.

The twin cities and surrounding area have a long history of German roots; Kitchener was formerly named Berlin. A large portion of the population identify themselves as being of German heritage, and many still speak German as well. A common phrase at the celebrations is Gem├╝tlichkeit, German for congeniality, or warm friendliness. This word is even programmed into the bus route displays, so during Oktoberfest it will show the route and Gem├╝tlichkeit, or Willkommen.

The festival's mascot is Onkel Hans, a rotund man in Bavarian dress with a thick moustache, lederhosen, and a traditional felt hat with tassel. His graphical image shows him holding a beer stein in one hand, and a sausage (in a roll) in the other. A lesser-known icon is his counterpart Tante Frieda, a similarly stout woman wearing a dirndl.

Another icon of the festival is Miss Oktoberfest. This position was formerly selected in a televised beauty pageant, the applicant coming from across North America. The position is now selected by a closed committee of judges from a panel of local applicants; community involvement and personal character form the main criteria under the new system. A ribald spin-off of the Miss Oktoberfest pageant is celebrated in some local high schools, in which all participants are male, but dressed as women.

Read more about Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest:  Clubs and Festhalls, Events

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