Beer, wiener dogs, beer, hot dogs, beer, dancing — did I mention beer? It’s all part of Placerville’s fourth annual Oktoberfest, from 3 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept.20, on Main Street.
Oktoberfest in Munich, where the tradition began in 1810, is always in September, not October. A special beer, Marzen is served. Before refrigeration came along to frost up your beer, beer brewing stopped with the coming of spring as the summer temperatures were too hot for good brewing. Beer was brewed in winter and early March (Marzen) and kept in cold storage over the summer and released in September. Oktoberfest Marzenbier is an aromatic, rich, toasty brew with medium to high alcohol content and Spaten — the maker of the first Oktoberfest beer — will have some of its brew on tap for the hot and thirsty.
Beginning in 1950, the Lord Mayor of Munich founded a ceremony that has since become world-famous — the tapping of the first keg of Spaten beer to open the Oktoberfest. The skill and the number of hammer blows the mayor employs each year to open the keg have played a large role in the Lord Mayor’s prestige among the Munich townspeople. Jeff Winzeler, owner of The Wine Smith, is Placerville Oktoberfest’s honorary mayor (the Burgermeister) again this year. Wearing his lederhosen, he’ll assist with the tapping of the keg to open the festival and get the crowd to shout, “O’zapft is!” (It’s tapped!)
Beer brands at the festival will include Spaten, Spaten Oktoberfest and Franziskaner. Old Hangtown Beer Works will be providing its own German style beers, too. Apple cider and water will be available for purchase for those not drinking beer.
The über popular wiener dog races will return and the race course has been extended by 20 feet. This year, the course will be on artificial turf, donated by Kris and Shawna Payne, so that there is nothing to trip up tiny flying feet. There will be room for 64 dogs to race in a series of heats. Registration for your wild wiener racer can be downloaded from placerville-downtown.org/events_info/2014_Oktoberfest.html. Proceeds from the wiener dog races will go to the Sierra Pacific Great Pyrenees Dog Rescue; the little dogs are helping out the big dogs this year.
The Grand Isle Fire Brigade Band will play traditional German favorites, including the Chicken Dance, and there will be two local dance groups doing German dances to entertain the crowd as well. Jammin’ Dane & Fitness will feature children in fall-themed dances and the El Dorado International Dance Association will feature costumed couples demonstrating traditional Bavarian dances, followed by an audience participation activity.
With enough beer, almost anyone can karaoke and there will be a Karaoke Contest near the H.Art Lounge at the west end of Main Street.
Fuel up for dancing, singing and wiener dog race watching with bratwurst, hot dogs, sauerkraut, giant pretzels and apple strudel — all available for purchase. A Hot Dog Eating Contest for those older than 18 will provide both food and entertainment, depending on whether you’re a spectator or a participant. Old-fashioned children’s games and a Great Pyrenees dog booth (for petting and information) will be on Main Street as well as plenty of adult contests like the Mighty Mug strength contest and the Pint Chugging contest.
Admission to Oktoberfest is free, but special pre-event commemorative pint glasses with one beer ticket included, are on sale now for $8 at The Wine Smith, 346 Main St. in Placerville.
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