A Bavarian touch returns
by By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG  Banner Staff Writer
Apr 29, 2013 | 1571 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Submitted Photo LAST YEAR’S MAIFEST was a huge success at its new location, First Street Square in downtown Cleveland. The lively, and colorful, event is returning this year to the downtown venue. Here, some of those attending the 2012 celebration show off their native Bavarian garb.
Maifest, a festival celebrating German culture that is hosted by the Montessori Kinder International School, is making its annual comeback this May with a new fundraising goal that organizers hope will impact more than just the school.

The event, which will take place on Saturday, May 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in First Street Square, will feature Bavarian music, food and other entertainment and raise money to build a DreamCourt in Cleveland.

All proceeds from food and other activities at the event will go to the school’s partnership with the Nancy Lieberman Foundation and the WorldVentures Foundation to build a basketball court in the city.

DreamCourts are outdoor basketball courts that are usually built in areas that are home to underprivileged children and are meant to be safe places for them to play. According to the Nancy Lieberman Foundation, many DreamCourts are home to things like free basketball clinics and competitive teams for children.

Christian Hoeferle, a longtime event volunteer and husband of school founder Brigitta Hoeferle, said the school’s goal is to raise $35,000 to go to the project and that the school has been working with the Cleveland Housing Authority and the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Cleveland to determine the best spot for the court to be located.

“It’s an idea that’s new to the area. It will help get kids off the street, get exercise,” Hoeferle said.

What started as an end-of-the-year event for the school in 2006 whose participants included only students, teachers and families has since grown to an event that is open to the public and will be in its second year downtown this year. Hoeferle said last year’s event drew 650 people.

Tickets sold before the event and food plates sold the day of will help the school get closer to its fundraising goal. Presale tickets valued at $19 will include food plates, beverages and other goodies like gingerbread hearts, and $49 four-packs of tickets will offer the same benefits for four people. The event itself is free for anyone who just wants to visit and enjoy the German music and other festivities. Individual food plates will be sold for $9 the day of the event.

Music by a band called The Wurstbrats will set the stage as foods like bratwurst and sauerkraut are served. Various activities for children, including basketball on an area meant to show what the DreamCourt could look like will also be there. Local vendors will also be at the event. Hoeferle said everyone who can is encouraged to show up wearing German clothing like lederhosen and dirndls.

In addition to raising money, Hoeferle said one of the event’s main purposes is to allow people from Germany to share a bit of their culture with Cleveland residents. Since companies like Volkswagen and Wacker have moved to the area, the area has seen increases in both German-born residents and people interested in learning more about German culture.

Though American and German cultures have their differences, Hoeferle said the people themselves are not all that different. He is originally from Bavaria, the state in Germany that is home to the city of Munich, and calls himself a southerner both in his hometown and in Cleveland.

“We’re a friendly bunch,” Hoeferle said of himself and fellow Germans from the southern part of the country. “I sense a lot of similarities between the two cultures.” 

He was quick to add that not all German expatriates can say they are from the south but that he has met many who are grateful for the chance to wear their traditional dress and connect with others who have the similar things in common.

Hoeferle said the event has welcomed people of all ages in past years, from children to older adults he has met who said they had served in the U.S. military and had been stationed in Germany.

Companies sponsoring the event include Krombacher, Johnsonville, Cooke's Food Store, Niedlov's Breadworks and Aubrey's Restaurant. Hoeferle said organizers would also like to thank Mainstreet Cleveland and all the businesses situated around First Street Square.

For more information about the event, visit http://www.facebook.com/maifest. To reserve tickets or find out other ways to support the cause, call 479-7282 or email classroom@montessorikinder.com.