Sunday, April 2, 2023

A Lager Beer Picnic at the Shooting Park

Here’s a taste of Sunday recreation, 1878 style…

The Sons of Hermann held a big picnic at the Shooting Park on Sunday. Excursions came from Fond du Lac, Appleton, Neenah and Menasha to attend it, and there was an immense crowd present. Gymnastic performances, rope walking and lager beer were among the chief attractions.
   – Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, July 28, 1878

Gymnastics and lager beer. I like that. I wish they would have mentioned who made the beer. There were five Oshkosh breweries producing lager beer in 1878.

The picnic was organized by the Oshkosh Lodge of the Sons of Hermann, a fraternal organization and mutual-aid society formed by German immigrants. Events like these were held at the Shooting Park throughout the summer. On Sunday's, the park turned into an immense beer garden where families gathered, brass bands played, and lager beer flowed. The Shooting Park was on the north side of the intersection of what is now Witzel Avenue and Idaho Street.

An 1895 map with the Shooting Park in the old Sixth Ward.

There were, of course, the usual cranks who wanted to put a stop to those fun Sundays in the park. A couple days after this event, the Daily Northwestern published a grouchy letter from a “Manufacturer” insisting that “The Germans shall abate their shooting park, our brass bands refrain from their sweet “refrains” -- in short, let the people rest on the Sabbath.”

Maybe that dullard would be happier with what’s there today. A credit union and an auto repair shop now reside at the site of the old Shooting Park. I’ll bet they were having a lot more fun there back in 1878.

Looking towards the former site of the Shooting Park.

No comments:

Post a Comment