Last weekend my honey and I decided to go to the Oktoberfest in Germantown — that is, I decided and he went along. Other than having the distinction of spelling October with a “k”, what’s the difference between an October fest and any other fest? Well, to tell the truth, not much. A few tents with crafts and T-shirts, and a few with food and beer — which made honey hungry as soon as we arrived.
This Oktoberfest is a street festival billed as the oldest ethnic festival in Nashville; however, I only found out about it this year when I saw it in the paper. It’s in the oldest residential area of Nashville’s near northside with homes and cottages dating back to the 1800’s. Some are still residences; many have been turned into art studios, restaurants, or other business ventures. In the olden days, the area was populated largely by German residents, hence the name of the area.
Capitalizing on a historic past, many cities are trying to rebuild blighted urban areas. Germantown is in the process of urban renewal, attempting to revitalize the area by updating and remodeling older, dilapidated residences. My honey was less interested in history than in finding a good parking place on the narrow back streets. The most ethnic part of the festival was the presence of several polka bands dressed in native costume and entertaining with lively music while visitors did the chicken dance. There seemed to be an unusual amount of sauerkraut available, a dish that I’ve always been able to pass by without regret — but I guess it wouldn’t be a German fest without out it.
What was most interested to me was the tour of homes. I dragged honey past the beer tents and we followed the map through the walking tour. Can you imagine anyone letting thousands of people walk through their personal residence? Some houses were in early stages of refurbishment. Others look like pages out of a home-decorating magazine. Even homes that were not open for public viewing had been refurbished in antique colors with appropriate fall decorations on the doors. In spite of a few jewels, the overall area still has a long way to go before totally successful development. Its strongest point is the location, within walking distance from the heart of the city.
Several homes were remodeled especially well and furnished with collections of antiques and memorabilia that would excite anyone even halfway interested in home decor. An especially interesting detail was use of bright paint on walls; some were red, and others featured various deep hues on different walls of the same room. While it sounds rather strange, it seemed to accentuate the older character of the homes. It also provided a perfect backdrop for the various collectibles of the owners. While I was visualizing my own walls painted in various bright colors, my honey was visualizing more food. I visited the arts and crafts tent while honey visited his favorite vendor for refreshments.
I’ve always found that the best way to become acquainted with a community is to attend local events, and to join in the spirit of the fun. Often the funds raised with these activities go to further upgrade a community. So, we sat on the street curb to rest and cool off while deciding what to do next.
As population and new construction have moved further and further from the places where people work, many people have become disenchanted with the daily commute in rush hour traffic, and cities have turned inward trying to reestablish the charm and convenience of older neighborhoods. It is interesting to see the possibilities and the lifestyles of those who have moved toward the city instead of away from it.
My honey was just happy when we figured out where we had left the car.