Hundreds of people flocked yesterday to Southwest Baltimore for the city's 96th annual German Festival, turning part of Carroll Park into a three-day celebration of things German.
"This has become more than an annual event," said Bob Sheppard, festival chairman. "It's an opportunity for people of German descent to celebrate their heritage and show their ethnic pride."
Dancers in blue and red folk costumes performed a ritual German dance called schuhplattler as festivalgoers strolled through the area, dining on knackwurst, schnitzel and sour beef.
"It's wonderful to see so many people dressed in authentic German garb," said Caroline Horemkamp, 33, of Baltimore, a first-timer at the festival. "And the food is really good."
At park booths, groups offered a variety of German dishes, such as funnel cakes, strudel, bratwurst, bauernwurst and dumplings. But the most popular item offered was Dab beer, imported from Dortmund, Germany.
"A lot of people come out to see the dancers," said Sheppard, who added that they "often they get an education on German culture, too."
One vendor offered information on famous Baltimoreans of German descent, such as former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, while another asked festivalgoers to sign up for free German language classes.
"My children are home-schooled, so this festival provides a great opportunity to teach them about their German heritage," said Russell Corkrin of Catonsville, whose grandparents came from the fatherland.
Corkrin and his wife brought their daughter Rebecca, 6, and son Connor, 4.
Festivities will continue from noon to 10 p.m. today at the park -- about two miles from Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Washington Boulevard in Southwest Baltimore. Admission is $2 for adults; free for children younger than 12. Last year, more than 35,000 people attended.
The festival is sponsored by the German-American Citizens Association of Maryland, a Baltimore-based group that represents 15 German organizations. Fifteen people planned the festival for seven months, and more than 400 volunteers help run the three-day event, which began Friday.
Pub Date: 8/18/96