Oktoberfest has been celebrated in Mount Angel, Oregon for five decades, starting the second Thursday after Labor Day. This year is no exception, except that it will be an especially exceptional event because 2015 also marks its 50th anniversary! If you enjoy the party atmosphere of lively polka bands, sampling sausages and beer, and doing the Chicken Dance, head to historic Mount Angel, September 17, 18, 19 and 20, 2015. In addition to several traditional festhalles filled with musical entertainment and special beers and food, two car shows are on the schedule, as well as Weiner Dog races, a golf tournament, and walk/run events. Families will want to check out the special activities in the Kindergarten, shoppers will love the many arts and crafts booths, and fans of Sound of Music will enjoy performances by the great grand children of Captain and Maria von Trapp. Fun memorabilia from the ‘good old days’ also will be on display to highlight the event’s 50-year history.
Have you ever wondered about the history of this famous fall festival? Oktoberfest is a generic word meaning harvest celebration. The first celebration began in Germany as a series of horse races in honor of the wedding of the Crown Prince of Bavaria in 1810. The horse races became an annual event and were combined with the agricultural fair the following year. By 1818, folks were setting up booths and serving food and drink. By the late 1800s, the booths had become large beer halls or tents that are the centerpieces of today’s festivals. Most Oktoberfests around the world are actually held in September because that’s the end of the harvest— time to celebrate the year’s hard work. In Mount Angel, it occurs about the time the hop harvest is in. Another reason for celebrating in September is that the weather tends to be more cooperative.
Mount Angel’s Oktoberfest is spread out over the downtown area, so if you lose track of your family and friends, make plans to meet at the town’s Die Fruchtsäule – the Harvest Monument. This decorative column has graced the town’s Oktoberfests since 1969 and is the official event symbol. It makes a nice backdrop for souvenir photos, too. The column symbolizes the bountiful harvest and the goodness of Creation. It reflects the importance of agriculture to the surrounding communities, reminding visitors that even in today’s fast paced world of technology, the harvest provides for the most basic of needs.
Plan to attend Mount Angel’s 50th Oktoberfest this year (dirndls and lederhosen encouraged) and revel in the Gemütlichkeit – the German word meaning a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, of belonging, social acceptance, and un-hurry. We could all use more of that. PROST!
IF YOU GO
Oktoberfest is celebrated September 17, 18, 19 & 20, 2015 throughout the downtown area of Mount Angel, Oregon which lies approximately 40 miles south of Portland and 17 miles north of Salem. Use this address is you have a GPS: 5 Garfield St. Mount Angel, Oregon, 97362
Most events at Oktoberfest are free. Only 3 of the venues have a cover charge, and purchase of a wristband allows for admission to all 3. Wristband prices vary by the day and time (before 5:00 p.m. is less expensive), but generally cost $5 – $15 each. For more event details visit http://www.oktoberfest.org or call 855-899-6338.
There are four RV areas serving Oktoberfest visitors (no hook ups). Each is well marked as you enter Mount Angel and all are within easy walking distance of the festival. Download RV map here http://www.oktoberfest.org/accommodations-parking/rv-locationsResearch Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com