Nicknamed "The fifth season" in Germany, Karneval is a pre-Lent Mardi Gras-like celebration that dates back to medieval times.
Folklorama’s German Pavilion will celebrate the annual tradition Aug. 4 to 10 at the German Society of Winnipeg (121 Charles St.)
"We’re focusing on the big one that’s in Cologne, we’ll follow a few of those things and explain and perform to the theme of Karneval," says Esther Lenz, German pavilion co-ordinator.
"Karneval is all about fun and dressing up, but it’s not scary, Halloween-type fun, it’s just fun. For instance, we have our Karneval prince and princess. The prince selects his guard, but the guards he usually selects are young women who dance.
"It’s all about having that kind of fun. We’ll have the theme of Karneval but also integrate a lot of other old and current German songs and dances as well."
When it comes to traditional German music and dance, the German Society Brass Band, the German Society Choir and Heidschnucken youth dance group are Folklorama mainstays.
However, on the Friday and Saturday nights, the German Pavilion features a DJ who plays more modern German music.
"The focus shifts to a younger pace, not that older people can’t enjoy it, but it’s definitely a younger crowd," Lenz says.
"That’s the only way to keep (German culture) alive. It can’t be the same old, same old all the time. We like to provide both the old and new."
German pavilion patrons might have different tastes in music, but when it comes to actual tastes, there’s not much debate.
"That’s a default, you can always rely on good food and good drinks at the German pavilion," Lenz says. "We make our own schnitzels and rouladen. It’s not bought, frozen and reheated. If you have a sweet tooth, there are the traditional tortes. They’re really good."
Frank Unger, a German Society of Winnipeg member and the man behind the music on the Friday and Saturday nights — seconds Lenz’s opinion of the cuisine.
"Once you eat the schnitzel, you’re hooked for life," says Unger, who’s of Austrian heritage. "At the end of the night, you just roll out of there."
Unger says Folklorama is a great way for people to learn about different cultures, whether it’s their own or not. He also says it’s a great way for visitors or recent immigrants to feel at home while away from home.
"It’s a way to connect with other people of their language and culture," Unger says. "A couple of years ago, Bison Transport did recruiting from Germany and a number of the workers came to the German Pavilion. Folklorama is one way where you can make new friends in the same culture which keeps your culture alive."
Admission to the German Pavilion is $6. Doors open at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Saturday and 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday. For more information contact the German Society of Winnipeg at 204-589-7724 or firstname.lastname@example.org