The aroma of authentic German food and the sounds of polka swirled above the mountain on Spook Lane celebrating German culture at Reading Liederkranz during Oktoberfest, the longest running, authentic Oktoberfest in Pennsylvania and the biggest on the east coast.
Sample German cuisine and tempting desserts, watch dancers in lederhosen as the polka gets your feet moving and hold your glass high to shouts of “prost,” German for cheers.
“This has been going on since 1949. It started at a clubhouse other than this one and has grown over the years to be what it is today,” said Mark Hinkle of Temple, Oktoberfest Chairman for the Reading Liederkranz. “We do our best to provide an authentic German Oktoberfest right here in Reading, Pennsylvania. The food we spend months preparing and getting ready for this event… goulash, schnitzel, there’s brats, authentic German pretzels, potato salad what you’d find at a normal Oktoberfest, not to mention all the different kinds of beer, at least six different kinds of Oktoberfest beers that are from Germany brought in special for this event.”
Brenda Spencer and Joseph Spencer from Leesport, wearing traditional German apparel to the event, said, “We came here to support the German heritage of Liederkranz.”
“When I’m able to make it to this festival, it takes me back to my roots. I’m German; I love this,” said Marcia Hill, originally from Berks County. “I’ll tell you what, it’s authentic. I think I like that about it best.”
Oktoberfest features multiple live entertainment acts over several nights. This year, Grammy nominated musician Alex Meixner, a fan favorite, was the featured performer for night two.
Meixner’s high energy show lets loose on the accordion, his instrument of choice, giving rock hits like Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” the polka treatment, merging two genres together in a way that is incredibly pleasing to the ears and conducive to a party-like atmosphere.
Referencing Duke Ellington’s quote on the two types of music in the world, good music and bad music, Meixner is doing his very best to make good music. Those in attendance would concur with this statement. You could not get another person onto the dance floor during his show. He left this audience spellbound and pleading for just one more song.
Meixner is also an artist who accommodates his fans; he was not too busy to pose for pictures and talk with people after the show.
When I interviewed Meixner, the first thing I noticed is that he enjoys what he does and is on a mission to make the world a happier place. He is also the product of a very talented musical family. Alex’s mom will tell you that he started played drums in the womb. He’s the 4th generation of his family that are musicians in the United States alone, and officially started playing piano when he was 3 and a half years old, and graduated to the accordion at age 4, and there’s been no turning back since.
Many of Meixner’s projects have brought his music to different audiences. There is the commercial for Hormel Pepperoni and his work on the movie “The Polka King” with comedic actor Jack Black. Reflecting on his time with Black, Meixner refers to it as an amazing experience, and describes Black as “not only a phenomenal artist but also a phenomenal actor, phenomenal comedian, phenomenal musician, and a great guy.”
Black was Meixner’s wing man when Meixner proposed to his wife. While they were getting ready to do a performance for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Black helped him propose to his wife during rehearsal and says he is forever indebted to Mr. Jack Black.
Meixner’s advice for youth dreaming of being a professional musician is to “be true to yourself but have an open mind. If a type of music really doesn’t resonate with you don’t jump after it just for a paycheck.”
He added, “It is so important to have music education in our schools because they expose us to so many different kinds of cultures that allow us to appreciate what makes us all similar while also celebrating our differences.”
Performing 180 shows a year has taken Meixner to many different parts of the country but the musician has a unique connection to Reading. Meixner’s great grandfather’s band, grandfather’s band and father’s band have all performed at the Reading Liederkranz. Now Meixner is performing there.
Meixner’s favorite thing about Reading, PA is the history and experience, and his dream is that his children get the opportunity to continue that tradition.
View the entire interview with Alex Meixner at https://youtu.be/o93ZfmzI0xs.
For more information about The Reading Liederkranz visit www.readingliederkranz.com.
Rodeo Marie Hanson of Fleetwood is a teen columnist specializing in coverage of entertainment events and celebrity interviews. Follow Rodeo’s Hollywood Drive-Thru News on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rdthn/ and on her YouTube Channel Rodeo’s Hollywood Drive-Thru News at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5zPmRRqa9HK_-Z9-G9OPGA.
Source: Berkshire mont