Since I grew up within spittin' distance of the largest Oktoberfest in these parts, learned how to wash strudel dishes in the restaurant that housed the kick-off party, and years later owned a market that was dead-center in the middle of it, you might say I've got Oktoberfest in my blood.
Strange thing for a Norski to say, ya sure, but I sold tons of the best wurst around. My ex-inlaws were German and helped turn out some of the best home-cooked specialties, like kraut buroks and cabbage rolls. They sold like pickled herring at a Norski fest!
This O-Fest is in Mt. Angel, Oregon, a little town settled by Bavarian Roman Catholics. There is a seminary and a convent, both of the Benedictine order. The town is about 3,500 people, but over the four days of O-Fest, always the 2nd weekend after Labor Day, they have a nice friendly neighborhood block party for 400,000 of their closest friends. This festival marks the 42nd annual event. Only non-profit organizations can sell within the boundaries of the festival, and profits by the O-Fest foundation are poured back into the local communities surrounding Mt. Angel for such things as new ambulances or education.
Besides the Biergarten and Weingarten, there's plenty of other things, like food, concerts, food, dancing, food, crafts, ohhh, and food, to occupy your time! The Chicken Dance is perfected by thousands each year, who only forget it as soon as they leave.
Do you have an Oktoberfest near you? How long has it been operating? Where do the profits go? How's the food? Good beer? Would Martin be proud?
My question, Don, is where do I start???
Here I am smack in the middle of Missouri Synod country. There will be an early fest in Concordia, one in Hermann (home of one of our best-know wineries...did you know that Missouri grapes are up-and-coming in world ratings?), and, of course, in Kansas City as well. And Warrensburg's Fall Festival in October will certainly have a beer garden, courtesy of the company with the Clydesdale mascots.
I don't like beer, myself...at least not for drinking. It can be used to get rid of slugs and to wash hair. And, of course, in fish batter and--can and all--to stuff a chicken. For drinking, I'd rather have a nice glass of red merlot or a rum and coke, myself.
Though Schludwiller would LOVE to have this account, they've not gotten it once (to my recollection). There is a TON of authentic German beer sold, plus a TON of local craft beers sold. Portland is widely known as the Mecca for craft brewing, so this fest is a natural for it, being but 40 minutes south. Oddly enough, the area is one of the few in the nation that grows hops, and many are actually sold to A-B. The field that used to be the back 40 of my dad's farm was sold to the neighbors behind us, and now grows hops. Its quite a sight to see 20 foot tall trestles covering 50 acres at a time, with flowering vines billowing from them!
Ja, second that Pere, Hermann has quite the festivities, from us MO German gals! (One grandma was a Lehmann, other a Schoen). Yum, wine! My cousin just bought a vineyard in Sullivan, they are making their first batch now. Hermann is so gorgous in the fall as it's along the MO river.
Our church holds an Oktoberfest. It's not very large, just our congregation and some of the other local Lutheran churches, but it sure is fun. We put up a tent, have great food, good beer and a great German polka band. It's not a moneymaker, but we'd be hard pressed not to hold it.
I have been to the Oktoberfest in Frankenmuth several times. There's also a gigantic event held in Lantana, Florida (home of the National Enquirer). I think it goes on for about a week and draws huge crowds. I went once and had a great time, but I wasn't eager to get back among that many drunk people.