Is that a keg rolling down Amherst Street? If you are in Black Rock on Saturday evening, the answer is “ja.”
Having honored the Polish for years with Dyngus Day, “Airborne” Eddy Dobosiewicz was concerned that there was no German festival within the city limits. And so was born RiverRocktoberfest, an evening of beer, brats and oom-pah-pah bands.
The festivities kick off at 5 p.m. Saturday with a traditional, authentic keg-tapping ceremony at the Polish Cadets (927 Grant St.). A procession follows, with the keg traveling in state down Amherst Street in a horse-drawn wagon to the American Legion Post 1031, where there will be dancing to the 30-piece Bergholz Blaskapelle.
And that’s just the start of the gemütlichkeit.
From 5 until 11 p.m., free shuttle buses will run about every half-hour to ferry revelers among participating bars and taverns all over Riverside and Black Rock, a neighborhood being referred to more and more as River Rock.
“This area has a German story to tell,” Dobosiewicz said. The most prevalent ethnicity in Erie County is German, and he detects a curiosity about the culture. “People in their teens and 20s want to know about their heritage. They want to take part in authenticity. This is a way to tap into authenticity that younger generations don’t have any more.”
About a dozen venues are becoming German for the day. Many have been featured on Forgotten Buffalo tours, which are run by Dobosiewicz and fellow history maven Martin Biniasz. More than a few are within walking distance of each other.
Rohall’s Tavern (540 Amherst St.) has a live German band from 6 to 10 p.m. Dill’s, a historic tavern at 360 Military Road, has a Bavarian buffet and German accordion music. There is a Rathskeller at the Croatian Club (226 Condon Ave.).
“That’s one of the coolest joints I’ve ever been to,” Dobosiewicz said. “It’s just a cool, cool place.”
A Wein Garten, an accordionist and German specials may be found at Black Rock Kitchen and Bar (491 Amherst St.). The Ukrainian Club (205 Military Road), opens its doors with a German band and a large array of German beers, spirits and sausages.
Want to get started before 5 p.m.? Barry’s Bar and Grill (277 Amherst St.) has German food specials beginning at 11 a.m.
Wegmans on Amherst Street has German music from noon to 2 p.m. and German cooking demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. From 2 to 5 p.m., the Buffalo Religious Arts Center, the former St. Francis Xavier Church (157 East St.), will be open for tours.
Dobosiewicz emphasizes that just as Dyngus Day is for everyone, RiverRocktoberfest is for all Buffalonians who want to toast our shared history.
“This is a way not only to celebrate German heritage but the beginning of fall,” he said. “It’s a way to celebrate our city. I love this town, all the nooks and crannies.”
More information is available at www.rivrocktoberfest.com. Already, Dobosiewicz is planning on making RiverRocktoberfest into an annual event.
“I think this will grow into one of the biggest things in the city every year,” he said. “We’ve really only begun to tap into it.”