The festivus we know today as Oktoberfest evolved from an early 19th century celebration originally held in Munich, Germany.
To commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (who later became King Ludwig I) to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildurghausen on Oct. 17, 1810, a grand party was held in a meadow just outside the Munich gates. Townspeople were invited to celebrate the marriage with mountains of food and, of course, a sea of Munich beer.
Though the horse races that were part of the original festivities have since been phased out of time-honored Oktoberfest activities, celebrations have occurred in Thereienweise meadow (named after the lovely Oktoberfest bride), since 1819.
One tradition that will always be part of Oktoberfest celebrations is beer, but it wasn’t until 1910 that the first consumption records were noted – 316,800 gallons of “Weis’n” beer were guzzled in Munich during the Oktoberfest. This number rose slightly in 2000, when 1.5 million gallons were consumed at the Munich festival alone.
The party gained in international popularity through the years and by 1960 the Munich location enjoyed 100,000 visitors. Each successive year since has seen an increase in participation, topping 6.9 million in 2000.
While old-world tradition, horse racing and Lederhosen aren’t as common in the transplanted Oktoberfest festivities around the Inland Northwest, savvy Oompah-practitioners will find jousting, yodeling, traditional Bavarian music and, most certainly, sausages and beer in plentiful supply at several locations throughout our celebration-ready area.
During the Oktoberfest season, finding a locale to partake in the consumption of traditional Bavarian food and drink is about as difficult as finding sales at Christmas time. Some die-hard fans of the festivities, however, may want to plan an Oktoberfest strategy with the following list of local events in order to maximize their appreciation of Bavarian culture, tradition and…good times!
If all else fails, however, just follow the sound of the yodeling and the trail of wobbly kneed beer fans…
Sept. 3-4 ~ Kimberley International Folk Festival and Oktoberfest. Downtown Platzl and Kimberley Curling Rink. Traditional Folk dancing, family activities and various venues for Oktoberfest refreshments In Canada’s Bavarian City in the Rockies. (250) 427-4916 www.kimberley-rotary-club.ca/kiff
Sept. 30-Oct. 2 ~ Latah Creek Oktoberfest – Enjoy wine and beer tasting at this local winery, as well as traditional Bavarian hospitality. Sept. 30-Oct. 2 ~ 5-8 p.m. — Oktoberfest Friday Night Party. Oct. 1 & 2 ~ All-day festivities at the winery — 13030 E. Indiana Ave., Spokane. (509) 926-0164
Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8 Leavenworth, Wash. ~ Washington State’s own Bavarian City holds perhaps the states definitive Oktoberfest celebration over two weekends with live music, irreplaceable Bavarian atmosphere and a local vibe that breathes Oktoberfest. Live Music, Crafts, Bavarian clothing. Friday $5, Saturday $7. Leavenworth Festhalle, (509) 548-5847. www.oktoberfestleavenworth.com
Oct. 1 Oompa-Fest ~ Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Free admission to the whole family for a day of live music and great Oktober-festivities. (800) 831-8810. www.schweitzer.com
Oct. 1 ~ Sandpoint Oktoberfest ~ A 20-piece German band, huge German food buffet and beer at the Hidden Lakes Golf Resort starting at 4 p.m. 151 Clubhouse Way, Sandpoint, Idaho. (208) 263-1642.
Oct. 1 ~ The Spokane chapter of the German American Society holds an annual Oktoberfest celebration at the group’s Deutsches Haus center located at 25 W. Third Ave. $10 admission. (509) 325-1113 or (509) 443-1507
Oct. 1-2 ~ Northwest Renaissance Festival Annual Oktoberfest ~ This is a no-holds-barred Oktoberfest-o-rama. Jousting competitions, with scheduled performances by Thryce Wycked Wenches, Commeida del Amore show, The Peasant Show and much more geared for the whole family. NWRF, 6493 Hwy 291, Nine Mile Falls, Wash. http://www.nwrf.net/New_Folder/current_events.htm
Oct. 7-8 ~ Spokane’s own Steam Plant Grill will hold its own version of Oktoberfest under their covered parking area, Oct. 8 from 5 p.m. to midnight and Oct. 9 from 3 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free 159 S. Lincoln St., Spokane. (509) 777-3900 www.steamplantgrill.com
Oct. 8 ~ Eastern Washington University Library Fundraiser Oktoberfest, Old West style ~ An annual event to raise money for the EWU library. Wine and beer tasting, auction, $30 regular admission, $15 with Student ID card. 6-10 p.m. at the JFK Library, 816 F St. Cheney. (509) 359-2264 www.library.ewu.edu/oktoberfest/
Oct. 29 ~ Octobrewfest Spokane ~ A 21-plus event held annually to raise funds for the MS Society. Held at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. Because this is a fund-raiser, the MS Society will gladly accept auction items ahead of time to help raise money. 5:30pm. $12 in advance, $14 at the door. (509) 482-2922 or (800) 344-4867.
The first week of October is always ripe with Oktoberfest festivities within the various colleges throughout the area. Most events are reserved for the students of each respective educational institution, so keep an eye on student calendars and activity boards. WSU’s Up All Night campus involvement organizes a yearly celebration of all things Oktoberfestian ( www.getinvolved.wsu.edu/UAN/schedule.htm). Spokane Falls Community College’s German Klub’s Oktoberfest celebration, while non-alcoholic in nature, is more than compensated for with its legendary spread of German gastronomical delicacies offered to students on a yet-to-be determined date during the first quarter. Last year’s was Oct. 23…so plan accordingly. www.sfcc.spokane.cc.wa.us/college/diversity/default.asp
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