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The Germanic-American Institute

Our History

The Germanic-American Institute’s predecessor, the Volksfest Association of Minnesota, was formed in 1957 as a collaborative group of Germanic clubs, celebrating Minnesota’s statehood centennial in public festivities. By selling bonds and a variety of volunteer fundraising efforts,  the organization purchased the Summit Avenue Haus for $60,000 in 1965, and refurbished it to suit the needs of a Kulturhaus for social and cultural gatherings. In the early 1990s, the organization changed its name to the Germanic-American Institute (GAI) to reflect the changing demographics and focus of the organization.

The Present

Today, the Germanic-American Institute is a 501 C3 non-profit organization whose mission is to foster appreciation and understanding of the culture, language, arts, and ongoing history of the German speaking peoples through public educational and cultural programs.

The GAI carries out its mission through three main areas: Education, Cultural Programming, and Community Building. 


Event History

Saint Paul Oktoberfest

The Saint Paul Oktoberfest is supported by a collaboration of West End Fort Road Federation. Bruce Larson, a St. Paul philanthropist and Europhile whose love of languages, history and dressing up led him to launch the city’s annual three-day Oktoberfest festival 2001.

Old World Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest began in 1810 with the wedding feast of Princess Therese and the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig . The feast was held in a meadow adjacent to Munich. As part of the entertainment, a horse race was staged for 40,000 enthusiasts from all over Bavaria. The party lasted five days. Such was the success of this party that to this day Germans around the world continue to commemorate it each October. Oktoberfest is celebrated for two purposes: First to give thanks to the Lord for the past year’s crops and other blessings. Second to share in the joy of the occasion with the family in the spirit of true love.

One of the most famous Oktoberfests is held in Munich. The festival comes alive at noon on opening day when, as the clock of Saint Paul’s Church strikes 12 noon, the Burgermeister enters one of the beer tents and taps the first cask and quaffs the first stein during a 12 canon salute. One of the highlights of the fest is the Trachtenfest parade, in which thousands of participants from all over Germany dress in their native costume. Bands, floats and decorated beer wagons drawn by beautiful horses wind their way through the downtown streets and out to the festival grounds.