By: Duane Blankenship | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: September 2007
Three generations enjoy fellowship and ice cream at a recent German-American Society of Tulsa ice cream social.
The German-American Society of Tulsa began informal activities in 1979 as a result of the great popularity of Tulsa’s first Oktoberfest. The organization, referred to as GAST, was officially established on January 24, 1980, when the society’s Certificate of Incorporation was signed, making it a nonprofit corporation. Interestingly, “gast” is the German word for guest, and GAST members genuinely and warmly make guests feel welcome.
The German-American Society Center is located one block west of Lewis Avenue on the corner of 15th Street and Terrace Drive. It serves as a cultural and social center for the organization and is also available for public rental. The beautiful design, prestigious setting and comfort of the center make it desirable for any kind of function from business meetings to formal evening occasions. It provides a truly memorable atmosphere for special events.
Still a very young organization, GAST has established itself as one of the most active ethnic groups in Oklahoma. The number of events and activities sponsored by the society are numerous. In 1980, two of the most visible groups of GAST were established: the GAST Folk Dancers and Die GAST Sänger. Regular performances at festivals, schools, churches, nursing homes and retirement centers have made these two groups renowned across the state. The GAST Brass Band was recently formed, adding to the organization’s musical groups.
German language classes have been offered twice yearly since 1981 by the German-American Society of Tulsa. Ten-week courses at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels will begin Tuesday, September 11, and will be taught by native German instructors. Classes are from 7 to 9 p.m., and enrollment fees are $65 for members and $75 for non-members. Students are responsible for providing their own instruction books. Children’s German language lessons will also be offered Saturdays. More information is available online or by calling GAST.
The German-American Society of Tulsa attracts members of all ages, especially when there is an abundance of good ice cream.
Two highly-anticipated annual events include Germanfest, scheduled for the first weekend in May, and Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) the first weekend in December. Both events are open to the public. Admission is free. The music and entertainment are wonderful, and plenty of vendors with merchandise are available at both events. GAST also conducts children’s Easter and Christmas parties. Since the organization was indirectly created out of Tulsa’s first Oktoberfest, GAST is involved as one of its major sponsors.
The German-American Society Arts Association was established in 1981. It has hosted evenings of classical German music and poetry, one of which included a 65-member German choral group from Krefeld, Germany. The association conducts at least one major cultural enrichment event each year.
GAST is a great place for Germans, German-Americans and non-Germans. Stop by to visit, learn and be entertained. Members are very welcoming and enjoy spreading their heritage. For more information, visit the German-American Society of Tulsa online at www.gastulsa.org. Guten Tag!
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.