Thursday, October 20, 2016

Oktoberfest: Not just for Germans

Although not technically a harvest festival, Oktoberfest is one of the most well-known fall festivals worldwide, and represents the basic human need for community and celebration. 

Today, Oktoberfest smacks of fall, with seasonal beverages and attractions to connect and recharge.


The City of Munich’s website claims the origin of Oktoberfest, goes back to October 12, 1810.  It was on that day that the future King Ludwig I married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, giving all of Munich a reason to celebrate.  The festivity brought inspiration to celebrate yet again the following year, beginning the massive tradition of Oktoberfest. Each year since that famous wedding, new attractions, agricultural shows, contests, and beer tasting stations have been added to the festivity.

Like many harvest celebrations, Paige Villiard of The Black Label, writes that Oktoberfests were moved earlier in the season to accommodate better weather. Today many Oktoberfests begin the third week of September.

The Black Label notes other noteworthy festivals that begin in September and span through October, such as the Leavenworth Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, WA, a small town modeled after a Bavarian village, which celebrates the Bavarian heritage with  authentic German bands. There is even an Oktoberfest celebration specifically held in November. The Wurstfest is a ten day Bavarian festival held near San Antonio, TX in a town called New Braunfels, from November 4-13.  Here, German culture mixes with Texan traditions, including a polka competition.

To this day, the popularity of Oktoberfest brings many visitors to Munich, with hotels booking as far as one year in advance. The City of Munich regards Oktoberfest as the largest festival in the world, one that inspired many other cities to follow the same tradition in their own neck of the woods.  

The celebration starts as early as September, such as the Oktoberfest in Vernon, NJ which was held at Mountain Creek on September 24th and 25th.  The Great Lawn was home to pony rides and sack races, while participants enjoyed the Lederhosen 5K race.

Looking to celebrate the harvest with traditional German food and brew? Florida isn’t behind on the 8-ball… the weather there is nice enough to celebrate during the month from which it’s named.  Check out some of these Okotberfests, and please, share your favorite stories and photos from those that you’ve attended, and how they helped you recharge before the cold snap of fall.


Oktoberfest Tampa, held at Curtis Hixon Park, is filled with fun challenges like chicken dancing and stein hoisting.  Not to miss is the Mr. and Mrs. Oktoberfest competition, fun to watch or to participate!


Hosted at Tampa Bay Down, this three-day celebration features German culture with authentic sausage and brats, steins of beer, traditional and contemporary music from local bands, log-sawing contests, carnival attractions, and many hands-on activities for the entire family.   


Hosted by the German American Society of Central Florida, this authentic Oktoberfest celebration is held in the Orlando area.  The society hosts two Oktoberfests each year, both open to the public.  Highlights of this festival include two authentic German bands, real Bavarian beer on tap, home cooked German food, and entertainment from the Alpenrose Schuhplattler Dancers.

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