By Alaina Perdon '22
    Nov. 11, 2021

    The Washington College Campus Garden Club held its annual Oktoberfest event on Nov. 5, inviting students to the garden to try homemade, Chestertown-ified versions of traditional foods. Almost all of the ingredients come from the garden or are foraged from campus grounds.

    First held in Munich, Germany in 1810 in observation of the wedding of King Louis I, Oktoberfest has evolved into a worldwide celebration of German culture held every October. Many American cities hold Oktoberfests of their own, emulating the traditional food and activities in an attempt to replicate the German sense of gemütlichkeit – cordiality.

    The gemütlichkeit was palpable in the garden last Friday as the gardening team and guests came together to celebrate, sampling sauerkraut, potato salad, pretzels, and mustard all made from scratch by Garden Club members. The snacks provided not only a taste of German tradition, but also of the Eastern Shore’s seasonal harvest.

    Food is perhaps the best means we have of preserving tradition, each dish an heirloom representing our personal history. But traditions also need updating, changes to trademark how each new generation celebrates. While you might find root beer at any Oktoberfest, you can only find root beer handcrafted with sassafras from Chestertown’s woods in the College’s garden. The Campus Garden team puts their own uniquely-WC twist on the age-old Oktoberfest celebration while preserving the Bavarian spirit of cordiality, adding their voice to the symphony of traditions that grow and change over time. 

    Even in the microcosm of our college family, there is an importance to upholding our traditions and allowing them to morph through the years. We strengthen our tribe, reinforcing ties to the past generations that have passed through Washington College, while also recognizing and allowing for the growth that drives a dynamic community.

    Alaina is an environmental studies major with minors in anthropology and Chesapeake Regional studies, passionate and curious about the intersections of history, culture, and ecology. Through her writing, art, and — hopefully — future career path, she hopes to inspire her fellow humans to embrace their role in the environment. You can often find her chasing after toads or pondering trees' emotional capacities.

    Oktoberfest Potato Salad


    • 3 pounds lacto-fermented potatoes
    • ½ large onion, diced
    • ½ cup kombucha (or apple cider vinegar)
    • ½ cup fresh mayonnaise
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tbsp dried parsley
    • 2 tsp sea salt


    1. Cut fermented potatoes to bite size. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes. Cook until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

    2. While potatoes are boiling, add diced onion to a small, non-metallic bowl. Pour in kombucha or vinegar. Let onion macerate in the acid for 15 minutes.

    3. Drain cooked potatoes and let cool.

    4. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, oil, parsley, salt, and macerated onions. Gently stir in the potatoes. Let stand for 1 hour before serving to enhance flavors.