An Alpine Fest
No producer could have arranged it better; it was a perfect
day in more ways than one! Even the heavens played along and allowed for
moderate temperatures, occasional light cloud cover and only a very brief
sprinkling of refreshing wetness, which did not even make it necessary to
open an umbrella.
Producer Gabi Schick, of Hospitality Connections, and M.C.
Sybille Forster-Rentmeister, of Echo Germanica, led a parade through the CNE
grounds to signal an inviting beginning to the second annual festival of its
colourful historical costumes of the Brunswick infantry soldiers added a
time spanning context to the proceedings and reminded that Germans have been
in this country for hundreds of years.
A smaller version of this kind of activity existed a few
years back at the CNE’s Community Stage next to the Food building. This is
where the corner
stones for a bigger venue were laid. And just like then
each year brings bigger crowds to the CNE. Sybille already was the master of
ceremonies then and helped to build the event to extraordinary proportions
for a few years in a row.
Last year the German Showcase was a great success
performance wise and had a good but moderately large crowd. This year all
expectations were exceeded and the venue burst at the seams. Lein’s
Delikatessen reported triple sales of food this year and ran out of supplies
hours before the end of the show. The beer garden, which had remained
largely empty last year, was packed most of the time. And outside of the
sponsorship beer of Blue light a few European imports could be had too.
During break time Dieter Kahl played his accordion for an animated crowd.
Throughout the performance packed program on the big stage
of the band shell, which was sponsored by the Toronto Star and toronto.com,
Sybille wandered through the crowd at ground zero and distributed most of
2900 granola bars in various delicious flavours, sponsored by Sunny Crunch,
among the ever changing and enthusiastic crowd. During the entire afternoon
the audience consisted mostly of people with a German language background
from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as other German based
cultures, such as the Danube Swabians; at night however more and more
non-German elements appeared and mingled with the crowd. A few folks had
amazing stamina and stuck around from noon to the very end at after 10pm.
The program was a unique blend of music, song and dance and
consisted of just over 300 performers. To start the day officially Sybille
Forster-Rentmeister introduced Mrs. Marianne Barth, Deputy Consul General of
the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr Karl Schmidt, Vice Consul and Trade
Commissioner for Austria, Mr. Karl Hagmann, Vice Consul of Switzerland, and
Mr. Toni Baumann, the President of the umbrella organisation of all Canadian
Danube Swabians and President of one of its clubs in Scarborough. All of
these representatives had a few wonderful words to say about this important
cultural celebration. "We deserve a day at the CNE!" This statement by Toni
Baumann was echoed by the crowd with much applause.
After presenting these guests of honour with a special,
framed memento the entertainment could begin. The popular Forget-Me-Nots,
consisting of nearly 30 family members and a few very close friends, put on
a memorable show in the Austrian tradition that showed but a part of their
This was followed by everyone’s favourite big band with the
big sound, the Harmonie Brass. A medley of popular and recognisable tunes
got the crowd into an even better mood. Three of the band members had
brought their Alphorn to pay homage to our Swiss friends. Awesome!
Austria was featured with the Willi Platzer Altsteirer Trio.
The brilliant 30-minute performance ended with a jodler that knocked
everyone’s socks off.
Now it was time for the Blue Danube Dancers and the Heimat
Gruppe to perform in their pretty dirndls the so familiar dances with
...a swinging youth group
Just as swinging...
...the Danube Swabian Heimatgruppe
was no time to recuperate for the audience. A fashion show put on by
Regina’s Dirndls from Kitchener followed and featured real people, like last
year, modelling popular heritage fashions created by Regina herself. Gabi
and Sybille both sported various dresses created for them, each one a very
is truly astounding how feminine and flattering these dresses are. Whether
they are created in traditional bold colours or in jewel tones with
embroidery and silverware as adornments, or whether they are meant for a
casual Oktoberfest look or a traditional gala evening, Regina’s dirndls
uphold European standard with quality in workmanship and fabric and are
unique in their design. The show itself was choreographed by Regina’s
daughter Barbara, who is herself a fine dancer and has a dancing school in
Niagara Falls; she participated with some of her friends with dance routines
she created especially for the show to much applause.
finale was especially wonderful because the other Regina, the guest star
from Vienna, appeared in a fairytale kind of a dress and sang her first song
of the day as a surprise.
But this was by no means the end of the afternoon
happenings. Enter a mass male choir consisting of the man from the
Harfentöne, Lorelei Singers, The Hansa Choir, and the Austrian Choir
Edelweiss, later in the evening program joined by their female counterparts
to make up a mixed choir of gargantuan proportions for a fabulous sing-
along with the Harmonie Brass Show Band.
just when everyone thought it was time for a breather the audience was
treated to lovely Regina from Vienna, with her intimate songs and fresh
voice, charming and warm and caring.
while holding hands with a young fan - she met Michael Wall when she was
here 3 years ago and singing hit songs made famous by other singers - it
became clear that her own songs will be a memorable addition to the European
song scene. Lucky for us her songs were premiered right here in Toronto
together with the release of her new CD.
After this tour de force a break was needed and everyone
disbanded to Lein’s Delicatessen or the beer garden, where Dieter Kahl
played the accordion, for much needed sustenance and refreshments, while
Regina signed lots of "autogramme".
After the supper break the Harmonie
Brass was back, but not alone. This time they helped back up the Mexico
Amigos with hot tunes from the southern hemisphere to demonstrate how we all
contribute to our cultures in harmony.
MC had a few historic notes about Maximilian II, who reigned over Mexico for
2 years before finding an untimely end. This was a great crowd pleaser!
Afterwards they got everyone to sing along with the 140
voice strong mass choir. After all that inflowing of fabulous music the
audience participated vigorously.
Once again the Forget-Me-Nots performed and then the
Oktoberfest Gang from Kitchener Waterloo came by to teach Gabi and Sybille
how to bring out the barrel and tap it properly. Dangerous business! Mascot
Onkel Hans was there earlier to remind all to come to Oktoberfest in
Kitchener, the 2nd largest Oktoberfest in the world!
Tapping the keg...
The dancers of S.T.V. Weiss-Blau Bayern performed and gave
the proceedings the correct Schuhplattler flavour and let the cowbells ring
There was more dancing by the Blue Danube Youth Group and
the Heimat Dancers, another set of songs by Regina from Vienna, and there
was even a much too short moment for
Sybille to resurrect the spirit of
Marlene before the evening was ended with a fitting finale, where Gabi
Schick showed her appreciation for all the fine efforts that went into this
day, which was month in preparation.
Somewhere in between this packed entertainment program the
prizes were drawn. All, except the Hummel figurine, went to people that had
left already. The flight for two on Austrian Air to Vienna went to a lady
from Richmond Hill, who had been there all day, until her daughter’s upset
stomach forced her to go home. Imagine peoples surprise when they receive
their fabulous prize in the mail, such as the flights to Vienna and a trip
in a luxury stretch-limo or a stay in an Ontario Resort. Too bad that there
cannot be a camera crew to catch the moment.
Behind the crowds was ample space for exhibits. There one
could admire Markham First Choice Limousine’s newest luxury stretch limo and
also the yellow bug from Reha Enterprises with the pretty logo of Herbacin
products. Austrian Airlines and the German Tourist Office were there to give
information on their services. KW Oktoberfest, The Moll Berczy House, The
Mecklenburg Upper Canada Society, European Sound and Ombra had booths housed
in attractive tents. At the press table information on Switzerland and
Ontario Resorts, Hummel collections and other things could be found to round
out the event.
It must be said that this was another fabulous instalment of
a German-Canadian-Austrian-Swiss-Celebration, worthy of these great
communities. Organizers deserve to be congratulated. Perhaps the future will
bring even more co-operation to such events from businesses and especially
by the various media, other than Ulli Jeschke and Helmut Gschösser who are
always supportive. Renate Klein.