We arrived in Amana, IA in time for Octoberfest this weekend. I thought that the Amana Colonies were an Amish settlement. It turns out that Amana was settled by a sect of German Christians in the 1840’s. They moved to Iowa from New York where they originally settled when they came to America from Germany to escape religious perrsecution. They established 6 villages - Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana, High Amana, and Middle Amana. A seventh village, Homestead, was added later to provide access to the railroad.
In the villages, they established a communal lifestyle where all residents received housing, medical care, meals, household necessities, and schooling for the children. All property and resources were shared and no one received a wage. The communal lifestyle continued until the Great Depression, when it became necessary to abandon it as the residents saw it as a barrier to achieving individual goals. They established the Amana Society Inc. which was a profit sharing corporation that managed the farmlands, mills, and larger business operations. Today the villages are thriving communities bound together by religious faith and community values.
Today’s Octoberfest activities were highlighted by the arrival of the official Octoberfest Keg. It’s made its way to the Festhalle in parade of folks dressed in traditional German garb in the back of a pickup truck. At the Festhalle, an older gentleman hoisted the full keg on his shoulder and carried it uphill into the hall with the crowd following. The people in the crowd paid for special wrist bands to allow them to get the first drinks from the newly tapped keg. The new beer is served until the keg runs out. We sampled the food, brats and sauerkraut and a giant pretzel, but not the beer. You could buy a 17 oz stein ($18 + $5 refill) or 32 oz stein ($24). Even the small stein is more than I drink in a week. Lot’s of good oompah music from the bands that were performing in the Festhalle. We did sample the food which included a pork cutlet sandwich, a Pork Trotter (boiled pig shank), German potato salad, and apple strudel. The town is decorated in fall harvest things for a colorful appearance.
We had intended on going back to the Octoberfest and parade today, but it rained hard most of the day. We did go to the Ronneburg Inn for a family style dinner. I had Roulande (rolled roast beef with a pickle in the middle) and Sue had Jager Schnitzel (breaded pork cutlet). Family style sides included cottage cheese, Cole slaw, beets, sauerkraut, fried potatoes. Pumpkin pie and 5 fruit pie for dessert. Both were good.
Hopefully, the rain will stop tonight. We’ve gotten flood warning for the Iowa River near where we are staying. The grassy area where we are parked is pretty wet. I hope that we don’t get stuck when we change sites on Monday. Stay tuned.