Friday, October 1, 2010

Oktoberfest Celebration In Socorro

By Paul Hardin

The Socorro County Historical Society will host its annual Oktoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 2. Festivities include good food and drink, live music, and arts and crafts for all to enjoy. All activities are held at the Hammel Museum on 6th Street from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
This year's fesst is again being catered by M-Mountain Grill. The menu includes a choice of bratwurst or barbecued beef brisket with German potato salad, sauerkraut, beans, green chili, rolls, condiments and soft drinks. The honorary brewmeister, Robert Eveleth, will be serving George Killian's Red as this year's selected brew.
Entertainment will include an instrumental musical duet playing German and classical music, Las Cantadas choral group, Dr. Comstock and the Oompah Band, and the Rawhide Western Band.
Socorro's Oktoberfest is a tradition started by Socorro's early German families, including Jakob Hammel and his famous brewery and Bravarian Beer. The Hammel Brewery is now the home to the historical society and the Socorro Train Gang. From the Hammels to the Zimmerlys, Socorro's history is peppered with German families that have made Socorro their home for generations.
Oktoberfest began in Munich, Germany, for families and friends to celebrate the autumn harvest, the year's first brew, and simply put – have fun.  The Hammel Brewery has deep German roots. In 1848, two friends emigrated from Bavaria to establish German breweries. They were Eberhard Anheuser and Jackob Hammel. By 1860, Hammel owned the Illinois Brewing Company, while his friend owned the very successful E. Anheuser & Company (now the Anheuser-Busch Co.).  It is not known when the first Oktoberfest was held in Socorro, but probably in 1882, the year Hammel and his family came to Socorro to start a brewery.
It quickly became famous throughout New Mexico. Packed in ice and shipped by train and wagons, Socorro's lager beers were delivered and served cold throughout the state – a real novelty at the time. William Hammel, and German brewmeister Francis Eppele, employed numerous Socorroans to brew and bottle “the beer that made Socorro famous.”
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