Mount Angel's Oktoberfest kicks off this Thursday
Dust off your lederhosen and lace up your dirndls: Mount Angel's 52nd annual Oktoberfest is this Thursday through Sunday.
The festival draws an average of 350,000 attendees each year to the small city of 3,296 people, making it the largest folk festival of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, according to the Oregon Historical Society.
The festival, which began in 1966, is modeled after the Bavarian celebration held each autumn in Germany. Each year, the Mount Angel Oktoberfest offers a wide variety of food options, plenty of drinks, lots of live entertainment and, of course, a big serving of German culture.
The festival is also the largest completely volunteer-led event in the Northwest. Each year the festival raises tens of thousands of dollars for Oktoberfest Inc., a nonprofit that donates money to local causes.
Since its first year, Oktoberfest Inc. has donated more than $3 million to schools, churches, civic organizations, youth activities, senior services, hospitals and other causes.
And the festival provides a place for other nonprofits to raise money too. All 50 of the festival's food booths are staffed by different nonprofit organizations, which use the proceeds to benefit their programs. Last year, those nonprofits netted $620,000 at the festival.
The festival is divided into several entertainment venues, including the Biergarten, Weingarten, Alpinegarten, Prostgarten and Kindergarten.
Most events at the festival are free, although the Biergarten, Weingarten and Alpinegarten require a cover charge for those older than 21.
The Biergarten, located in the Mount Angel's Festhalle, features live music, international and domestic beers and plenty of room for dancing. The music line-up this year includes the band Die Schlauberger from New York, whose Alpine-style rock music will keep you on the dance floor all night long. New to the 2017 festival is the Chardon Polka Band, which combines traditional polkas with modern millennial culture. The beer menu includes Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr, who pour at the Munich Oktoberfest, and Northwest craft ales, including the Mt. Angel Volksbier brewed by Portland's Hopworks just for Oktoberfest.
The Weingarten captures the ambiance of the great wine festivals along the Rhine River. It is noted for its tasty food, wines from Germany and the Northwest, and German beers. A highlight of the Weingarten this year is Donaumusikanten, a world-class Bavarian band flying in directly from Germany. The music line-up also includes festival favorite Z-Musikmakers from Mount Angel, and Gordanairs European Musik from Canada.
The family Alpinegarten features lively Alpine-style entertainment and lots of beer and wine options in a hall reminiscent of a Bavarian village folkfest. Entertainment in the Alpinegarten features favorites like the Gruber Family Band, which brings the sounds of the Alps to Mount Angel with old world folk and traditional music. New this year from Slovenia is the band Oberkrainer Juhey. The beer menu features Weihenstephaner from Germany and Northwest craft beers from pFriem and Boneyard. And don't miss the refreshing wines from both Germany and the Northwest.
The festival's newest venue, the Prostgarten, is a hidden treasure in downtown Mount Angel. At the corner of Garfield and College streets is a quiet place to savor the sounds of acoustic accordion music. Grab a sausage, kraut or other festival favorite from a food booth then make your way to the Prostgarten to sit under the tent or on the enclosed patio. Order an Andechs beer or German wine imported by Kastle Hill to accompany your meal, or just chat with friends in the outdoor garden atmosphere.
And the Oktoberfest Kindergarten is filled with delightful free entertainment for young and old alike and is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It features a 4-H Club barnyard, pony rings, interactive bouncing amusements, climbing walls and other physical activities. The Kindergarten Performers Pavilion will host ZuZu Acrobats this year. A real crowd-pleaser in the Kindergarten is the Weiner Dog Race, a highlight on Saturday and Sunday of the festival that tests the athletic abilities of dachshunds.
The festival flows beyond the individual venues into the streets of downtown Mount Angel, with food booths lining North Garfield and East Charles streets and art and craft booths lining East College, North Garfield and South Cleveland streets.
And the bandstand, located near city hall, provides free entertainment and plenty of bleacher seating. Every morning of the festival begins with a traditional Webertanz dance performed by children of the Mount Angel School District. And Friday and Saturday night the Bandstand is the site of street dancing, open to attendees of all ages.
For those with more specialized interests, Oktoberfest provides. The Oktoberfest Cruz'n Car Show offers two separate car shows on Saturday and Sunday. Entries are judged throughout the day and trophies are awarded for 30 categories at 3 p.m. each day. For more information, visit www.oktoberfest.org/attractions/car-show/.
And for athletic attendees, the festival offers golf and volleyball tournaments, a 10-kilometer fun run and 5-kilometer run/walk, and, for the more ambitious, a half marathon. Go to the Oktoberfest website for more information on all of those events at www.oktoberfest.org.
And for those with less conventional abilities, new this year are the Oktoberfest Olympics, which will be held each afternoon of the festival.
Participants will be challenged with five different events: a bratwurst eating contest, in which participants will eat a brat and bun as fast as they can; hammerschlagen, a game in which participants use a large wedge-shaped hammer to hit different-sized nails; a keg roll, in which participants will roll and stack three empty beer kegs; stein hoisting, which challenges participants to hold up a beer stein with an extended arm for as long as they can; and finally, a yodeling contest.
Participants will be scored by judges and rewarded with prizes.
The Oktoberfest Olympics will be held at 30-minute timeslots each day of the festival. On Thursday and Friday the Olympics will be in the Biergarten and on Saturday and Sunday they will be in the Weingarten.
For a complete schedule of all Oktoberfest events, including the Oktoberfest Olympics, visit www.oktoberfest.org/schedule.
Entry is free but there is a cover charge for the Biergarten, Weingarten and Alpinegarten for those 21 and older. Purchase of a pass provides entry to all three venues.
ALL -FESTIVAL PASS: $30 — A four-day all festival wristband provides unlimited entry to all venues the duration of the 2017 festival
DAY PASS: Price varies — Day passes are available for each day of the festival and are used for unlimited entry and re-entry to the three venues that day only. A pass purchased before 5 p.m. is good through the remainder of the day — there is no additional evening charge. A different colored wristband will be used for each day of the festival.
DAY PASS PRICING:
Thursday, Sept. 14: $5 before 5 p.m., $8 after 5 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 15: $7 before 5 p.m., $12 after 5 p.m., $2 discount available for veterans all day.
Saturday, Sept. 16: $10 before 5 p.m., $15 after 5 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 17: $10 all day
Passes can be purchased online here.