A Brief History of BRATFEST

BRATFEST was originated in 1979 in Tucson, Arizona by enterprising young grad students, longing for a taste of traditional Wisconsin fall fare. It takes on a flavor of Oktoberfest, but not entirely. For nearly 3 decades, the Fest was held at its original location, Hawthorne House , now looking nothing like it did then.

The tradition has been continued by grad students of the Lunar & Planetary Lab, University of Arizona. This year in Tucson marks the 45th annual event. T-shirts are printed each year (examples given in links on previous page) and can even be seen being sported in random cities across the US by people you've never heard of and some you have.

Bratfest has been presented as a poster talk (see within this link) at DPS and asteroid (7887) Bratfest has been named in its honor. People have traveled from many states and even foreign countries to attend.

The popularity of the event had mushroomed, with BratFest East, known as BratfEast (Maryland), and there were, for a while, BratFest Australia, BratFest New Mexico (Albuquerque), and a BratFest West (Ames),

This had put the founders of Bratfest (Bill Merline of SwRI, Nick Schneider of CU, and Gordy Bjoraker of Goddard) in a particularly difficult spot --- two founders in one location and no Fest. Eventually, we finally had enough of the shame and embarrassment. To remedy this, and at the urging of Marc Buie, we initiated Bratfest Colorado in 2008, and the tradition continues.

For historical interest, the earliest known records of Bratfest have revealed that there were actually two Fests held in the pre-Bratfest era, both on Bowen Court in Madison, Wisconsin. They now come under reference as Bratfest (0) [August 1978] and Bratfest (-1) [August 1977]. But they were known at that time as the Bowen Court Corn Festival, and provide the key link to the offering of corn to this day.

Munich's Oktoberfest started as a wedding celebration in 1810. We note that Bratfest has now run for over 20% of the span of Oktoberfest.

In 2020, for the first time ever, we had a global Bratfest, held virtually online. This linked festgoers at all three main sites, plus individuals worldwide, creating an event for the benefit of all humanity.