Oktoberfest party adjusts to change

Ron Kichler and Tom Csoff make a toast at Oktoberfest in the Delhi District German Home on Sunday. Kichler is a director of the home while Csoff is the vice-president. VINCENT BALL / Brantford Expositor

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DELHI- The annual Oktoberfest party at the German Home is still going strong.

Not as strong as it was back in the 1960s or 1970s, mind you.

But the party, held Sunday afternoon, still attracted a good-sized crowd.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Carey Hahn, president of the Delhi District German Home, said. “There was a time when we’d get 700 people here and be using two floors.

“Now we get between 100 and 125 people.”

Recognizing that most of the people attending the event were elderly, organizers opened it up to children to make it more of a family event. That has helped but not everyone connected to the home or the event have children living close by, Hahn said.

“My children live out of town and they have busy lives too, so coming home for a day is pretty difficult,” Hahn said. “But we’re always looking for ways to bring in more people.”

As a venue for events and entertainment, the German Home remains a popular spot. A wedding reception was held at the home Saturday and there are a lot of events planned for the remainder of the year.

The Delhi Hockey Mom’s 90s Video dance party takes place Nov. 30 at the home and a German Heritage dinner and show is being held Dec. 14. A Christmas party is being held at the home Dec. 24 followed by a New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31.

But still, the times have changed and many of the people attending Sunday’s party were older.

Andrew Zei, 93, was the oldest to attend the event, followed closely by Karolina Pawelka, who is 92. Both were dressed impeccably for the occasion and enjoying the live German music provided by Twin City Alpine Echo. The band included Peter Bauman on drums, Hansi Kroisenbrunner, on saxophone and vocals and Alf Schroth, on the accordion and vocals.

But there were some young people at the event as well, including Tom Csoff, 33.

He’s the vice-president of the German Home and has a long connection to the building through his family. His grandparents Mike and Mary were the first couple to get married in the home back in 1951.

His grandfather was a past president of the home, as was his father Gunther, while his mother is a member of the home’s ladies’ society. Csoff’s Uncle Joe is past president of the board and is still involved with the home’s day-to-day operations while a cousin – Rick – joined the home in 2013.

“I really enjoy it,” Csoff, who was dressed in lederhosen, said of the Oktoberfest party. “This building has been like a second home to me.

“But you have to remember, back in the 1960s and 1970s, there wasn’t a lot of other things for people to do.”

The German Home and the Belgian Hall were the centres of the community’s social activities. That’s where people went to dance, listen to live music and have fun, he said.

A lot of their children and grandchildren have moved away from the community. As well, people have a lot more options when it comes to entertainment these days, Csoff said.

People can stay home and watch football all Sunday afternoon or spend time on their computers or cell phones. In many cases, people connected to Delhi or the German Home get married and if their spouse isn’t interested in attending they won’t either, he added.

Csoff was joined at the party by his wife Alicia, son Charlie and daughter Clara. Other younger couples also brought their children to the party.

There were 100 people at Sunday’s party and everyone, including Pam Brand and Brenda Prouse, had a great time.

They, like many of the other young women including Katrina Marques, were dressed in traditional German dresses for the occasion.

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