The sixth annual Parktoberfest will return to Brackenridge Park on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 3-6 p.m. at the Koehler and Cypress Pavilions. The annual celebration of San Antonio’s German heritage and culture will take place immediately after Síclovía.
The celebration is hosted by the Brackenridge Park Conservancy (BPC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving visibility and raising funds for the park, and sponsored by the San Antonio Parks & Recreation department, KRTU 91.7, and KGBTexas Communications.
This year’s Parktoberfest will focus on the history of the park. In a Tuesday phone interview, BPC Executive Director Lynn Bobbitt told the Rivard Report that the park’s history is receiving more attention as a result of the Brackenridge Park Draft Master Plan.
“We’ve expanded (our preservation efforts) as a result of the interest in (the master plan) to include ‘Recuerdos of Brack‘”, Bobbitt said. “We’ll be recording memories that people have of the park in an archive with the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP), and we’re celebrating the history of the park.”
The “Recuerdos” project will have members of the BPC and OHP strolling the park in search of volunteers who are willing to record audio testimonials of their memories related to the park, which will be immortalized in an audio archive.
The park was originally founded in 1899, after Col. George Brackenridge donated most of the land he owned east of the San Antonio River. Through additional bequeathments from Brackenridge and others, the park was able to expand over the years.
“Most notably, in 1915 Emma Koehler donated land west of the river in honor of her brewer husband, Otto,” Bobbitt explained. “So we’re celebrating (more than) 100 years of that.”
Otto Koehler was the organizer of the San Antonio Brewing Association, which later became the Pearl Brewery.
Part of the land west of the river was used as a beer garden for a long time, as Koehler stipulated that the land must allow the sale of “malted beverages,” Bobbitt said. This led to an interesting dynamic in the park, as Col. Brackenridge had once stipulated that alcohol be prohibited on the land he donated. He further specified that if that prohibition was broken, ownership of the land would be transferred to the University of Texas at Austin. To this day, alcohol is not permitted in most of the park. It is only allowed in a few parcels of the western side, including the Koehler Pavilion, and during special events.
“(Parktoberfest) follows Síclovía, so people will be able to finish up a day of activity with German music and craft beer,” Bobbitt said.
Attendees can enjoy craft beer samplings courtesy of local breweries such as Alamo Beer and Busted Sandal Brewing Company while being serenaded by the San Antonio Ragtime Society and Beethoven Maennerchor. KTSA‘s Trey Ware will be the event’s emcee for the afternoon.
The event is free and open to the public.
Top image: Guests dine outside in Brackenridge Park during a Brackenridge Park Conservancy fundraising event earlier this year. Photo by Scott Ball.