Local Flavor and Hospitality: 13th Annual Kernersville Oktoberfest

by Suzanna Ritz

Tasting glasses will be raised for a great cause, and fantastic food, music, and history will be enjoyed at Körner’s Folly’s 13th Annual Kernersville Oktoberfest on October 7.

The Kernersville Oktoberfest, a lively celebration of Kernersville’s and the Körner family’s German heritage, will be held on Saturday, October 7 from 3-6 pm. The event will feature traditional libations, including lagers and festbiers, as well as foods, including bratwursts, that have been served at Oktoberfest in Munich since 1810.

Traditionally held on the first Saturday in October, Kernersville Oktoberfest is the signature fundraising event for the Körner’s Folly Foundation, inspired by the Bavarian sense of gemütlichkeit, or cordiality and hospitality. Ticket and t-shirt sales as well as sponsorships from local business provide annual support for the organization’s mission of restoring and preserving Körner’s Folly for the education and enjoyment of the public.

Tickets include a self-guided tour of the historic home, a Körner’s Folly souvenir tasting glass, samples of beers from Gypsy Road Brewing, Kernersville Brewing Company, Hoots Beer Co., Folly’s Draft & Snack, and wine and mead from Stardust Cellars. Local foodie favorites, including German-inspired dishes from J. Pepper’s and The Prescott, Black Forest chocolate cupcakes from Cake & All Things Yummy, bread pudding from C&H Cafeteria, beer cheese from Musten & Crutchfield, and more, will also be included. 

Joseph Kerner, founder of the town of Kernersville, was born and raised in Furtwangen, in the Black Forest region of Germany, an area known for its expertise in crafting cuckoo and grandfather clocks. Trained as a clockmaker, he set sail for America in 1785 at the age of 16. Joseph soon settled in North Carolina, where, perhaps seeking kinship with those sharing his native tongue, he arrived at the Moravian settlement of Friedland near Salem. After living in Friedland for 30 years, he purchased 1,000 acres of land at nearby “Dobson’s Cross Roads,” which then became known as “Kerner’s Cross Roads” and later, Kernersville. Today, Furtwangen, Germany is one of Kernersville’s Sister Cities.

The eclectic architecture of Körner’s Folly, which echoes the whimsical homes found in the Black Forest region, was designed by Joseph’s grandson Jule Körner in 1878 to serve as his living quarters, interior design catalog, studio, and stable. Originally, the structure was comprised of 11 rooms, featuring an open carriageway through the center of the house. After Jule’s marriage to Polly Alice Masten, Jule renovated the building, dividing tall rooms horizontally, closing in the carriageway, and converting the stable into family space, bringing the total number of rooms to 22 on three stories and seven architectural levels. 

“We can’t wait to see folks turn out this year to enjoy all of the local flavors our community has to offer and cheers to the Folly” says Larry Redfearn, Körner’s Folly Foundation board member and Oktoberfest Committee Chair. “Don’t forget to bring your lawn chair and settle in with friends for an unforgettable outdoor party with a live accordion player, DJ, and of course, the traditional Chicken Dance.”

This year, the Kernersville Oktoberfest will be held at Harmon Park due to construction on the new John & Bobbie Wolfe Visitors Center at Körner’s Folly adjacent to the historic house. Scheduled to complete by November of 2023 and open to the public in spring of 2024, this new facility will create a beautiful new gateway to Kernersville’s downtown historic district, greatly improve the Körner’s Folly Foundation’s capacity to serve the community, and continue to attract out-of-town visitors to the area. 

Kernersville Oktoberfest attendees will be able to catch a ride to tour the historic house on the “Folly Trolley”, provided by Gate City Trolley and sponsored by Carmine’s Import Service, which will also offer event-goers a lift back to parking areas at Main Street United Methodist Church and Kernersville Moravian Church at the conclusion of the event. 

Körner’s Folly is open year-round to the public for self-guided tours Tuesdays through Saturdays and holds innovative programs for children and families, adults, and local artists and creatives throughout the year. The Körner’s Folly Foundation seeks to forge connections between the past and the future, between the arts and industry, and among people who share an appreciation for ingenuity. 

Must be 21+ to attend. Limited tickets are available online at kornersfolly.org. This event has sold out for the past decade! In case of severe weather, the event will be held in an indoor location.

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