Oktoberfest At Oakland Nature Friends
Nature Friends (NF) is a German club (Die Naturfreunde) begun in Germany in 1905 focused on experiencing nature (hike, bike, …) and committed to preserving the environment. The Oakland chapter resides on a couple of acres in the hills of Oakland overlooking the San Francisco Bay with a beautiful clubhouse, bierstube, picnic area, and outside dance floor, which is where events are staged when the weather is good. And on October 6, the weather was brilliant. The Joe Bajuk Trio lit the place up with great German and Slovenian music. The club was packed with several hundred enjoying the fest, especially the Schuhplattler dancing exhibition. It was so packed that the kitchen sold everything, as did the bierstube. Bodo Rosin came to the rescue at the last moment with a couple dozen cases of Spaten.
NF has made a major demographic transformation in the last decade. The early membership of the club was mostly German immigrants. Most of them and their progeny departed the earth by the late 1990s. The membership dwindled. In the last five years, young folk (20-40 year olds) with families have discovered the club and the events are packed with young families from diverse ethnic backgrounds who enjoy the camaraderie and the family orientation of the club. It’s wonderful to see the place alive and vital, while maintaining its character.