Tapping into Oktoberfest celebration

Sister cities to be represented in annual parade this Saturday

The longest-running Oktoberfest kicks off this week in Helen, highlighted by the 2018 Oktoberfest parade beginning at noon Saturday, Sept. 8.

The 48th Annual Oktoberfest begins Thursday, Sept. 6, with festivities every weekend in September, before becoming a daily celebration next month.

Saturday’s parade will feature Sis and Gene Garrison and Marcel and Uschi Blankenburg as grand marshals. The tapping of the keg will follow at 1:30 p.m. at the Helen Festhalle.

The Blankenburgs are from Helen’s sister city – Füssen, Germany. Helen and Füssen became sister cities in 1983, and every years representatives of each city visit the other city. On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Marcel will be presented with a proclamation from the city of Helen.

“It is a great honor for me and also for my wife, Uschi, this year to be a grand marshal at the Oktoberfest Parade,” Marcel Blankenburg said. “I received a letter from the beautiful city of Helen a few weeks ago, which contained an invitation to be grand marshal this year. I was, and still, am very proud of it today. It is something very special for us.”

He said he met some people from Helen 13 years ago in Füssen, leading to a friendship.

“We are especially happy to see many dear friends in Helen again. Personally, last year I was the first German (at the) carnival parade at Faschingsverein Helen,” Blankenburg said. “At that time, I already fell in love with all the lovely people and the city of Helen. Now it is a very great honor for me to be part of the Oktoberfest Parade. It will be an unforgettable experience for us.”

Sis and Gene Garrison will also be grand marshals in the parade. Sis Garrison became involved with the Helen Chamber of Commerce almost 26 years ago. Gene Garrison later also became involved with the Chamber. The couple has been going to Füssen for years.

“We met them (Marcel and Uschi) seven or eight years ago,” Sis Garrison said. “They have a Fasching group over there like we have here. It was a lot of fun and they took us in like we’re family.”

Oktoberfest will run from Sept. 6-9, Sept. 13-16, Sept. 20-23, Sept. 27-30 and Oct. 1-28. Festhalle admission is $8 Mondays through Fridays, $10 on Saturdays and free on Sundays. The times are 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays, 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, and 1 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays.

White County night at Oktoberfest will be Thursday, Sept. 6. White County and Habersham County residents only, with ID, will get in for free from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the Helen Chamber of Commerce at 706-878-1619

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