In 2017, the team at Oktoberfest Brisbane were proud to raise Australia’s first ever Oktoberpole to celebrate the official opening of the Brisbane German Week and to kick off the 10th annual Oktoberfest Brisbane.
The event saw King George Square transformed into a German celebration, filled with traditional German food, drinks, music, and even human foosball!
Traditionally called Maypole (or Maibaum), it was re-named as Oktoberpole to represent the seasonal transition and change of hemisphere as it arrived in Brisbane. Maypole is a Bavarian tradition dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, and was used to tell travellers what trades were available in German towns, resembling a modern street sign with various symbols hanging off it.
In modern Bavaria, Maypole Day is celebrated on the 1st of May every year and is an important part of all spring festivities. The day is celebrated with traditional German attire, dances, local food, and beer brewed especially for the occasion.
It is also tradition for neighbouring villages to try and steal each others Maypole. If successful, the safe return of the pole is negotiated with copious amounts of beer and food, however, the process often ends in rival villages enjoying a feast together.
Oktoberfest Brisbane festival directors, Kim and Boris Zoulek, decided to incorporate this rich tradition after travelling to Langengeisling, Germany to attend the raising of the Maypole. Three months later, a fresh tree cut near Langengeisling, and a boat trip across oceans, Oktoberpole arrived safe and sound in Brisbane.
Australia’s first Oktoberpole raised in King George Square was 24 metres tall and required nine Bavarian men (who travelled all the way from Germany!) and 40 volunteers to raise it.