In a recent posting we chronicled a number of Oktoberfest celebrations to be found in places large and small. Subsequently, we came to learn of a place not on our list that was in fact host of the first Oktoberfest in the U.S.
Blob’s Park In Jessup was a German-style beer hall that opened in 1933. It was the “Home of America’s First Oktoberfest”.
Bob’s opened at the end of Prohibition (During Prohibition it was a private “club house”) and remained an important fixture over the years. It all started when the original owner, Max Blob, installed a bowling alley on his farm. A massive dance hall was later added and for decades families came to Blob’s to dance, eat schnitzel, sauerbraten and other German specialties and drink German beers.
Blob’s briefly closed in 2007 when John Eggerl, a nephew of Max Blob, decided to close the hall in 2007 and sell the land to developers. John’s younger brother, Max Eggerl, reopened it the following year. But as the planned development of the site was delayed because of the economic slowdown Max Eggerl restored and renovated the place inside and out. He re-opened Blob’s Park in 2009. Blob’s Park was voted as the “Best Place To Polka” in Maryland by Baltimore Magazine and was nationally televised on CNN News and Good Morning America and was featured in many articles in the Baltimore and Washington newspapers. Blob’s featured a 2,500 square foot wooden dance floor with seating capacity for nearly 1,000 people, an outside Pavilion, a lighted parking lot, as well as German/American food with full bar and restaurant facilities.
Today John Eggerl, nephew of Max Blob, has opened a new restaurant, The Bavarian Brauhaus, in Hanover,Maryland. The place has a small stage for occasional live entertainment, but, unlike Blob’s Park, does not host polka dancing.
In the meantime, though Blob’s Park is gone, Jessup continues to celebrate Oktoberfest (part of motorcycle event).
Though the feel is different than when Blob’s Park was there, it is Jessup, not Cincinnati, Milwaukee or St.Louis, that continues to claim the distinction as home of America’s original Oktoberfest.