Oktoberfest began last weekend in Munich and will continue until next Monday, the 7th; the 16-day party is in its 179th year and looks only to get stronger as the years pass. The origins of Oktoberfest date back to, of all things, a wedding reception. When Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese wed on October 12, 1810, they invited their subjects to join in the festivities in front of the city gates – thus Oktoberfest was born.
Tucson gets the party started with their 11th Annual Festival with plenty of beer, food, entertainment, arts & crafts booths, a children’s play area and dachshund racing – yes, wiener dog races. Beer choices will be Chandler’s own SanTan Brewery’sOktoberfest along with German traditional favorites Paulaner Oktoberfest and Hefeweizen. For those looking for the true taste of Bavaria, there will be bratwurst with sauerkraut, German potato salad(warm), soft pretzels and strudel. Many other food choices will be available including basic burgers, dogs, fries, Greek fare, roasted corn as well as most county fair food. Entertainment will be provided by the Bouncing Czechs with appearances by the Tucson Twists, Lajkonik Polish Folk Ensemble, Coyote Country Cloggers, Pure Natives, Saguaro Strutters and Tucson Tap Attack throughout the weekend. The Dachshund Races are Saturday night at 7pm.
This Saturday, downtown Chandler gets into the Oktoberfest spirit courtesy of SanTan Brewery.
Dr. A.J. Chandler Park will be the place to be for the fifth annual celebration from Noon – 10pm on Saturday the 29th. There will be tons of polka music, German food, craft beer and live music provided by Tempe’s favorite sons, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. The cover charge is $15 and $20 on the day of, but Fry’s grocery stores offer a coupon for the festival if you purchase any SanTan beers, kids 12 and under are FREE! The events at this year’s festival look to be worth the price of admission alone – the Beer X Games include beer pong, bag toss(corn hole), stein races, keg rolling and keg stacking. If you are less than athletic, there will also be tricycle races and a bratwurst eating contest with the winner receiving a $75 gift certificate to Von Hansons’s Meats & Spirits.The all important Best Beer Maid Contest will be giving $500 to to the best combination of dirndl & lederhosen.
Next weekend, October 5th & 6th will be the downtown Phoenix Oktoberfest- an Authentic Old World Family Event at the Margaret T. Hance Park. Admission is $5 with children under 12 admitted for free. This festival focuses more on the authenticity of the old world festival and celebrates German heritage and culture with “Gemuetlichkeit” – a situation that induces a cheerful mood and peace of mind, belonging and social acceptance. Live entertainment will be provided by Echten Wald Baum, direct from Germany. Events include the Alphorn Blowing Contest, Polka Contest and the Warsteiner bier stein holding competition for men and women. Warsteiner will be the official beer of the festival with 16oz drafts as well 28oz Oktoberfest Special souvenir plastic boot – Das Boot. Traditional fare such as bratwurst with sauerkraut along with roasted pig will be available for purchase.
Never to be outdone by the big brother in Phoenix, the city of Tempe will be hosting a 3-Day Festival at the Tempe Beach Park with FREE admission for all, over 30 bands on three different stages and beer, beer, beer. How much beer, you may ask? Along with the three domestic beers, there will be 16 craft beers including Arizona favorites Sleepy Dog Brewery in Tempe and Dave’s Electric from Bisbee. The Beers of the World will feature 16 different beers from Belgium, Italy, Spain, Denmark & New Zealand. But, this is Oktoberfest, where are the German beers? They will have three separate tents filled with 15 German beers to please your palate. Entrants this year include Weltenburger Kloster, Warsteiner and Beck’s. They also offer a German Beer Sampler where you will get eight 4oz. samples for only $20. There will also be a separate wine garden, tons of German food, a Giant Carnival, Kid’s Fun Zone and a German Shoppe where festival goers can purchase collectible beer steins, Alpine hats, ceramic mugs, t-shirts, dirndl and lederhosen aprons.
All in all, we have the Germans to thank for this celebratory time of big beers, big bosoms and big bratwurst. It won’t be long before we are mired in our very own American traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but until then, I ask everybody to raise their stein and say “Prost!”