Here’s an interesting Fakt: Oktoberfest — the real one, in Munich, Bavaria, Germany — actually starts in September and runs until the first weekend in October. That’s probably why the Germans don’t even call it “Oktoberfest.” Rather, they refer to it as “die Wiesn,” a colloquialism for “Theresienwiese,” the fairgrounds at which it’s held.
But we Americans have no problem changing a centuries-old tradition to better suit our own needs, which explains these local Oktoberfest events, which all take place in the month of October.
October 1, 5-10 p.m. (extended hours)
Oktoberfest @ Art Walk
The second annual “biergarten block party” is headquartered at Hemming Plaza where you’ll find German-style grub, German-style music played by German people (Dan Witucki and Mein Heimatland Muskikanten Band), German-style beer and German costumes, along with a yodeling contest and beer stein-holding contest, with yours truly emceeing the ceremonies. FUN FACT: “Speckman” means “bacon man” in German.
October 3, 6-9 p.m. (VIP Preview Party)
October 4, noon-8 p.m. (main celebration)
Oktoberfest at Memorial Park
Memorial Park Association hosts Oktoberfest at Memorial Park (where else did you think it would be?) with proceeds benefiting the Memorial Park Association. Expect lots of craft beer, German food, chicken dancing, live music from The Swinging Bavarians and Frauen, Männer, Jungs and Mädchen (Google it; you’ll learn something) decked out in their finest dirndls and lederhosen. And don’t miss the crowning of the King and Queen of Oktoberfest!
October 4, noon-1 a.m.
Green Room Brewing Oktoberfest
Jacksonville Beach-based brewpub Green Room Brewing holds its own celebration of suds with live music from Firewater Tent Revival (band starts at 9 p.m.), Oktoberfest-themed dishes prepared with Green Room Brewery beers and the tapping of three Green Room Brewing’s Oktoberfest beers. Wear traditional Oktoberfest attire to receive a discount on beverage purchases.
October 4, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Oktoberfest at European Street Cafe, Jacksonville Beach
Already known for its selection of German beers, pretzels and good times atmosphere, European Street Cafe seems an obvious choice to celebrate Oktoberfest. The Jacksonville Beaches version features a dozen beers on tap in the festival area, authentic German food including “the gigantic Bavarian pretzel,” live music from the Hungry Five (1-4 p.m.) and Grandpa’s Cough Medicine (6-9 p.m.), photo ops with the famed Monster German Wiener and an hourly beer-hoisting contest (12-8 p.m.). P.S. Wear traditional lederhosen or dirndl and get a free beer.
October 5, 11 a.m.-midnight
The folks at club TSI promise “the most intimate, authentic & rowdy Oktoberfest around. Starting at noon, attendees can enjoy a traditional Oktoberfest music, German food (including Bratwurst, Sauerbraten, potato pancakes, Königsberger Klopse and Gürken Salat) and German beer (keg tapping at noon), as well as the Bierfest Games (a team competition of barrel rolling, timed pint drinking, barrel tossing and Das Boot).
FREE EVENT ($40 per team to compete in Bierfest Games)
October 10, 6 p.m.
Jaxtoberfest 5K Beer Run
Runners, joggers, “sloggers” (my word for “slow joggers”) and walkers alike are invited to participate in this 5K race that involves drinking beer before crossing the finish line. There is also a costume competition in categories including Best German-themed, Best Beer Belly, Most Creative Tutu and Most Beer-tastic. The race starts and finishes at the Shipyards … just in time for you to enjoy post-run brews at Jaxtoberfest.
October 10, 4-11 p.m.; October 11, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Event organizers expect 50,000 attendees over the two days of this riverfront festival at The Shipyards. In addition to food and BEvERage vendors, a kinderfest area and beer tapping, and brat eating, flip cup and stein holding competitions, Jaxtoberfest features more than 15 bands on three different stages—from The Swinging Bavarians to The X-Factor semi-finalist Rion Paige.
October 18, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Oktoberfest at European Street, Riverside (Park Street)
See Oktoberfest at European Street Cafe, Jacksonville Beach list but replace “Grandpa’s Cough Medicine” with “Groove Coalition.”
October 18, 5:45 p.m.
Run4Beer Runtoberfest 5K
Running a 5K doesn’t sound like an Oktoberfest event, but when post-race beer is involved and the winners take home an engraved Warsteiner beer boot, it suddenly becomes one. The race starts and ends at European Street, Riverside.
October 23, 6 p.m. (5 p.m. for VIP)
Folio Weekly’s Oktoberfest 2014
All of these Oktoberfest events are beginning to sound a lot alike what with their German food, oompah-pah music, chicken dancing and copious amounts of beer. But I think I can say with all certainty, that this event, held at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, is the only Oktoberfest celebration that features a mechanical bull. (How do you say “olé” in German?).
Event organizers say, “If you can’t be in Munich, join the party here [World of Beer],” which makes even more sense considering the real Oktoberfest ends October 5. The event, hosted by World of Beer—Southside, features German fare, beer (with liter mug specials) served by “German beer maidens,” live music and the chance to win beer for a year.
October 25, 2:30 p.m.
Chug N Run 5K
Running after drinking beer or drinking beer while running just sounds like a bad idea to me, but considering this is the third such race this month, someone must like it. Part of the Beaches Oktoberfest, the Chug N Run takes place on the beach at the Sea Walk Pavilion. If you survive the 12-ounce beer before crossing the finish line, stick around for the post-race festivities at Beaches Oktoberfest.
October 25-26, noon-10 p.m.
See previous event but replace “mechanical bull” with “dog costume contest” and “moonlight screening of Ghost Busters.” Taking place at the Sea Walk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach also makes it the only Oktoberfest event with an ocean view.
If I’m missing a local Oktoberfest event, please add any details in the comments section. Danke!