More than 100 residents from Berks County and beyond came out to the Reading Liederkranz Club’s Fasching to celebrate and showcase German culture and heritage at their clubhouse in Reading on March 2.

Fasching is Karneval season in Germany. It starts on 11th day of November at 11:11 a.m. That is 52 days before Easter and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Reading Liederkranz combined the long celebration into a one-day event.

The occasion was open to the members of the Reading Liederkranz Club and their guests, including family members, friends and neighbors. The attendees socialized in the open bar, then proceeded to their assigned tables to interact some more with one another.

The menu included ethnic German dishes and delicacies such as Gebackener Brie, Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel), Brez’n Dutch Platter (German Pretzel), and Brez’n (Bavaran Soft Pretzel) that is imported directly from Munich, Germany.

Two of the various options were specialties by Chef Marlis Pritz, the Hackbraten Wellington or Meatloaf Wellington which has been a favorite since 2018, along with the Scweinsbraten or roasted pork.

“Being able to come to a place with such familiar dishes is very comforting and brings back memories,” said Marr Steve of Reading.

As for entertainment, Joe Kroboth played various music such as “Devil with the Blue dress on”. He also performed other songs, such as “My girl” and “Y.M.C.A.” which gave everyone a chance to hit the dance floor.

“This is the best band there is,” said Adam Schwartz from Harley. “I love the fact that they’re playing all kinds of music. I still get the same excitement every time even though I have been attending this event for the past four or five years.”

“My favorite part is dancing because everyone gets on the floor, I enjoy seeing other people learning our dance especially the Waltz and Polka; they can be tricky at first,” said Janet Shaw of Pennsburg.

One of the most important parts of the German Karneval is the costume parade because in Germany, that was the only time the population was allowed to wear satirical costumes and make fun of the government. However, according to general manager of the Liederkranz, Robin Pritz, instead of satirizing government officials, most costumes are of “witches, devils and animals in order to expel the evil winter spirit.”

Pritz added, “One part of the tradition is to wear hand carved wood masks and it gets passed down from generation to generation.”

This year, the costume parade included a construction worker, a police officer, a man in a chicken suit, a baseball player, a cowboy, a lumber jack and many more. The lumber jack won most unique, and the man in the chicken suit took home the best individual trophy. Then everyone danced again.

“I love seeing everybody coming together,” said Pritz, “enjoying the food, the dance. That is the whole idea of fellowship by showcasing our culture, and we’re encouraging other people to do so as well.”

Pritz has been attending Fasching since he was a teenager and took home at least 10 trophies during his time.

The Reading Liederkranz Club started back in 1885 and has now grown to more than 3,000 members. They plan various events throughout the year to give back to the Reading community. For example, they host an annual event where firefighters from the local fire company, along with all emergency personnel, can bring their families to enjoy free food and music. On Veteran’s Day, veterans and active duty members will also eat for free.

For more information on the Reading Liederkranz Fasching Karneval, visit https://www.readingpa.gov/content/fasching-karneval or https://www.readingliederkranz.com/karneval.

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