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                                              AUSTRIA • GERMANY • LIECHTENSTEIN • SWITZERLAND
       Vol. 11 No. 6                                                                                          November-December 2023 Issue

        German-American Musicians                                  Glad to be back – Buffalo German Festival was hit

            Assn. celebrates 90 years                              in Cheektowaga Town Park after 3-year hiatus

                                                                      by Steve Dlugosz
             inety  years  ago,  on  April music  to  the  band.  The  big  come-  he  2023  Oktoberfest  season
             10,  1933,  as  Buffalo  and back came with our Wald Concert at  in  Western  New  York  was
      Nthe rest of the nation had hit the  Spring  Garden  Association  in  Tkick-started  by  the  Buffalo
      the bottom of the Great Depression, Marilla.  People  heard  about  it  and  German Festival, which returned to
      a group of Buffalo musicians, most- the band was back up to 20 members  Cheektowaga Town Park Labor Day
      ly of German descent, decided to  from eight.                weekend, making a comeback to the
      do  something  about  their             In 1964, members of the  park  after  a  three-year  hiatus
      own  economic  plight.                  GAM  started  the  first  brought on by the COVID-19 pan-
      Approximately   fif-                     Oktoberfest in Buffalo.  demic and other issues.
      teen musicians gath-                      It was cosponsored by  According  to  Andrea  Ball,  one
      ered  at  the  old                        the GAM and the Ger-  of the event coordinators, a record
      Casino Restaurant at                      mania  Sports  Club.  number of patrons attended the fes-
      Genesee and Kieffer                       The  first  Oktoberfest  tival, which uniquely kicked off Fri-
      to  form  the  German                     was held at the Chuck-  day night, Sept. 1 and featured for
      American  Musicians                      wagon Banquet Hall in  the first time ever  a  European  Car
      Association   (GAM)                    Lackawanna.  In  1966  it  Show, in addition to other tradition-
      (there  were  no  women  in          had grown so big they need-  al goings on.
      the Association at that time). Most ed  a  larger  place.  It  was  a  sellout.  The  Federation  of  German
      of  these  men  were  tradesmen  in They  turned  people  away.  They  American Societies of Buffalo (NY)
                                                                                                     Gary  Ptak  of  Buffalo  enjoyed
      various fields from around the area. were still turning people away from  and  Vicinity  presented  the  event,
      Only  a  few  were  full-time  musi- the door when it moved to the We-  with cultural groups of the organiza-  the  day's  events  Saturday  with
                                                                                                  friends,  stating  that  he  liked  the
      cians. They played for many social ber Post VFW in Lackawanna. Ten  tion   including   the   Bergholz
      events  at  churches,  weddings  and years later, GAM was incorporated  Blaskapelle,  Bavarian  Singers,  the  Bergholz  German  Band's  perfor-
      fireman's functions.           as a non-profit organization in 1976.  Buffalo-Dortmund Sister City Soci-  mance.  Brandon  Harris  of  SGTV
         The GAM continued during the  Wives of the GAM band mem-  ety, the Buffalo Schwaben Chor, the  Edelweiss   Buffalo   enjoyed
                                                                                                  bratwurst.  Emily  Rodriguez  said
      Great  Depression,  while  the  band bers  would  work  for  the  band  as  Buffalo  Zither  Club,  Club  Lorelei,
      continued to lift people's spirits and ticket takers, raffle sellers, refresh-  Concordia  Cemetery,  the  German  handcrafted  gnomes  sold  quickly
                                                                                                  Saturday for her business in the pa-
      help people in a time of low morale. ment  workers,  etc.  for  many  years  American  Musicians  Association,
      By the end of 1933, the GAM had but had no formal organization. Bar-  the  Kolping  Society,  the  SGTV  vilion  tent  as  part  of  the  "Markt-
      40 members.                    bara Lengel, wife of trumpeter and  Edelweiss  Bavarian  Folk  Dancers,  platz."
         The  group  even  survived  the Vice  President  of  the  GAM,  Jim  Sport  Club  Germania,  and  the  "It's great to see the crowd that
                                                                                                  came  out,  the  bands,  the  revelry,"
      war  years  of  World  War  II  with Lengel, suggested an Auxiliary. The  Spring Garden Association.
      some popularity being lost, but the GAM Auxiliary was then formed in  The  last  time  the  Festival  was  said Steve Krug. "The Oktoberfest
                                                                                                  season kicks off with this. There's so
      music continued and the popularity 1977.                     held  in  Cheektowaga  was  2019,
      had returned after the War.      The   women    planned   and  with  that  year's  event  drawing  a  much going on."
                                                                                                     Karen Rybicki of Sloan, as well
         The  GAM  was  known  as  the launched  fund-raising  activities  to  then-record number of revelers.
      Konzertkapelle  (concert  band)  and help finance trips and to help pay for  An enthusiastic wave of festival  as members of her family, enjoyed
                                                                                                  the  band  performances  Saturday.
      came under the direction of George the uniforms, which were made by  goers were on hand Sept. 1 and 2 to
      Hinterbichler  in  1963.  He  brought the auxiliary members.  They made  celebrate with dancing, German mu-  Rybicki said she's actually traveling
      his own limited library of German          Continued on page 2  sic (Bergholz Blaskapelle perform-  internationally in the coming weeks,
                                                                   ing), a Hummel look-alike contest,  including  a  stop  in  Poland.  Dan
                                                                                                  Desrosiers  of  the  Bavarian  Nut
                                                                   keg tapping, keg bowling, German
       GAM celebrates a member's                                   genealogy  and  translation,  Stein  Company described sales Saturday
                                                                   hoist,  waltz  contest  and  car  show  as brisk.
       40 years with the band                                      among the featured entertainment.  Various auto dealerships partici-
                                                                      Traditional  Oktoberfest  themed  pated in the car show, including: the
            his year, Linda McEvoy cel-                            beer included Warsteiner and other  Volkswagen  Association  of  WNY,
            ebrated  40  years  with  the                          longtime festival favorites. The Ba-  the Niagara Region Porsche Club of
      TGerman  American  Musi-                                     varian Nut Company and other ven-  America,  BMW  Riders  Club  of
      cians  (GAM).  Members  of  the                              dors  were  busy  all  weekend  with  WNY,  Niagara  Section  Mercedes-
      GAM family offered their congratu-                           dishing out requested treats. Nik En-  Benz Club of America and Dubs in
      lations  on  reaching  this  milestone                       tertainment's Bob Greco Party Band  the Buff.
      and wish her many more years with                            also performed Friday as part of the  Admission fees will be used to
      the group.                                                   Stein Hoist and Sauerkraut Kickoff  support student scholarships coordi-
         Back  when  Linda  started  with                          Party.                         nated through the Federation of Ger-
      the band, the auxiliary was separate                            Ball described the return of the  man American Societies.
      from  the  GAM.  The  women  who                             festival  as  something  that  those  of
      made  up  the  auxiliary  were  band                         all  ages  could  appreciate.  At  least
      member's  wives  and  girlfriends.  Linda McEvoy and her husband  two of the vendors actually sold out
      They would work in the kitchen at  Vern.                     of goods by mid-day Saturday.
      events where they were paid by the tomers due to the authentic German  "The comeback is full throttle,"
      event holder. Any money they made steins that were sold.     Ball said of the festival. "There was
      went to the auxiliary bank account  Linda  and  her  husband  Vern,  a  little  hiatus  but  everyone  is  glad
      and the money was used to buy the who  celebrate  50  years  with  the  it's back. It's a record turnout (Satur-
      band  members  uniforms  and/or GAM  this  year,  started  going  to  day). Today has been a great, fantas-
      sheet music. Several of the women antique stores and buying German  tic day. There's a lot of excitement.
      sewed and mended the uniforms to made  steins  (which  people  loved)  It's bigger and better this year. The
      keep them in good shape.       and jewelry. Those items were add-  German Festival kicks off the Okto-
         Linda left the band for a couple ed to the t-shirts and plastic mugs.  berfest season."
      of  years  to  raise  her  children  and Also, Ann and Bob Ping (Bob was  In collaboration with The Feder-
      when  she  came  back,  there  were a member of the GAM) started do-  ation of German American Society,
      only three women left in the auxilia- nating German clothes and accesso-  Water Buffalo Club 716 and Stitch
      ry  and  they  had  merged  with  the ries to sell in the store.  Buffalo  also  showcased  the  Ger-
      band by that time.                There were times when the aux-  man-themed Buffalo hat. The Ger-
         The  then  president,  Beth  Ke- iliary  would  set  up  their  store  at  man American Musicians, described
      ough, would sell t-shirts and plastic other events, even when the GAM  as Buffalo's Big German Band, en-
      GAM mugs at events. She then re- was not playing.            tertained  the  crowd  as  well.  Laura
      tired and Linda expanded on what  At  Christmas,  the  auxiliary  Grybel, Tim Belczak and Tom Zio-
      was there and turned the store into members would make and sell craft  bro  served  drinks  and  had  some
      what it is today. Women that helped items to benefit the band.  laughs with customers and friends.
      out  with  the  store  were  Zona  Linda  was  on  the  GAM  board  "We're  certainly  glad  German
      Shreves, Dottie Butchers, Beth Ke- for approximately 15 years and re-  Fest  is  back  here,"  said  Grybel.
      ough and now band President Julie ceived  from  the  GAM  the  Leroy  "Buffalo loves its festivals, especial-
      Miszuk. They had many repeat cus-                            ly ethnic celebrations."
                                                 Continued on page 2
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