Maifest expected to be bigger this year

Maifest expected to be bigger this year

May 8th, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

Christian Hoeferle, Tom Rowland and Michael Gangwisch, right, of the Tennessee chapter of the German-American Chamber of Commerce welcome the crowd to the Tennesse version of the German Maifest in this file photo.

Photo by Randall Higgins /Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: Maifest

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 19

Where: First Street Square, Cleveland

Cost: $8 food plate; $5 children's activities

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Bavarians and East Tennesseans get another a chance to introduce themselves to each other later this month.

They may have more in common than they think.

"They are both Southerners in their own countries," said Christian Hoeferle, an expatriate himself who owns a consulting company in Cleveland. "They both have a great love for food."

And they both live among mountains, although Bavaria's are a bit bigger -- they are the Alps, after all.

The two groups will come together at Maifest, a traditional German celebration of spring. Wherever there are large German populations, Maifest has become a popular U.S. event, as well.

Last year, while the Munich-based Wacker Chemical was just getting its construction started and Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen was ramping up production in Chattanooga, about 400 people came to the first Maifest in Cleveland. It was planned but had some spontaneous elements.

Advance employees from Wacker heard of the event and came out, some in their lederhosen -- leather mountain shorts worn by men -- and dirndls, traditional German dresses.

"They even stayed to help clean up afterwards," Hoeferle said.

This year, with Wacker in force and Volkswagen in high gear, even more Germans and Tennesseans are expected attend. Other organizations, including the German-American Chamber of Commerce, are getting involved.

Maifest also is a fundraiser for the Montessori Kinder school in Cleveland, operated by Hoeferle's wife Brigetta.

Caitlin Land, administrative assistant at the school, said Montessori Kinder has about 60 students now, including about a dozen German children. But the school is expected to grow rapidly in the next few months, so a new school is being built at the Spring Creek development on 25th Street, she said.

"It will be built so the square footage can be doubled," she said. "Based on the inquiries we have had, we are expecting more growth."