Roll out the Barrel

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Plan Some Family Fun at Your Local Oktoberfest

When you hear the term “Oktoberfest,” do you think of seasonal, pumpkin-flavored beer or do you start humming “The Chicken Dance” in German Polka style?

Oktoberfest is all about celebrating the fall bounties, sort of a German flavored pre-Thanksgiving. The tradition of Oktoberfest began in Munich, Germany. The year was 1810 and the occasion was to honor Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

The Oktoberfest is a two-week holiday held each year in Munich, Germany during late September and early October. It is attended by six million people each year and has inspired numerous similar events using the name Oktoberfest in Germany and around the world.

German immigrants carried the tradition to the United States. According to American Community Survey in 2010 data, Americans reporting German ancestry made up an estimated 17.1% of the total U.S. population, and form the largest ancestry group ahead of Irish Americans, African Americans and English Americans.

Here are a few of the festivities across the nation this October where you can raise your stein and celebrate German heritage with music, food and beer. If you’ve never been to one of these festivals, it is great fun for the children and parents alike. Everyone is encouraged to dance, and festivals often have “shoe platter” dancers, who know and perform the traditional dances. And almost everyone can manage the chicken dance, from the smallest child to the oldest member of the family.

Catch the Oktoberfest spirit, and you’ll be sporting your own lederhosen in no time.

Visit a local Oktoberfest and learn when the time is appropriate to say “Ziggy Zaggy, Ziggy Zaggy, Hoi Hoi Hoi!”

Lake Worth, FL — Join the city of Lake Worth in hosting its 39th annual Oktoberfest complete with traditional folk dancing and German cooking on the second and third weekend of October 10/12-10/14 and 10/19-10/21.

Helen, GA — Though Helen is really in Georgia’s Appalachians, the tiny village fancies itself as being in the Bavarian Alps and presents a two-month Oktoberfest every day from 9/20-10/28.

Fredericksburg, TX Fredericksburg, a small Texas town at the gateway to the Hill Country Wine Trail, reveals a strong German heritage with its Oktoberfest from 10/5-10/7.

Big Bear Lake, CA Big Bear Lake, a year-round alpine playground in the San Bernardino Mountains, hosts the Big Bear Oktoberfest every weekend from 9/15-10/27.

Kitchener-Waterloo  -Kitchener, Ontario, North America's largest Oktoberfest, with 15 beer tents. It also is later than most, coinciding with Canadian Thanksgiving. Last year, 150,000 visitors came for the opening parade. There's a broad slate of activities. 10/ 5-10/13

Tulsa, OK –, (918)744-9700, in its 32nd year and has an ultra-competitive beer-barrel race. A carnival atmosphere pervades with rides and arts and crafts. 10/18-10/21.

Windsor, VT. - Harpoon Oktoberfest,, one of New England's top microbreweries, hosts Oktoberfest at its facility in Vermont. It's held right at the brewery, so while you're there take a tour. 10/6-10/7

A lot of venues celebrate their Oktoberfest in late September, so you may need to search your local online events resource or newspaper for one in your area.

Let us know…

What is your favorite fall festival?

Have you ever attended an Oktoberfest?

Do you feel your blended family enjoys these events spent together?

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