Oktoberfest, the real deal

Sure, there’s plenty of opportunities to toast a beer and have a brat in honor of Oktoberfest at fine establishments around town. For  some it’s an annual rite of passage into fall.

But when Brewhouse owner Tim Nelson and head brewer Dave Hoops went to Germany last year and saw the real thing in Munich, they were determined to bring the 200-year-old German tradition to Duluth.

‘The real thing is about dressing up in traditional German costumes, big top tents, polkas,  sing-alongs, souvenirs and games (beer pong, brat eating, team boot drinking, obstacle course relays, hammerschlagen and a keg toss). It’s about German beer and potato salad, handmade pretzels, sauerkraut and beer cheese soup.

So, as though these guys have a “can do” mantra, the first annual Oktoberfest Duluth will be held at Bayfront Festival Park this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s just a big fun party,” said Brad Nelson, director of the festival sponsored by the Brewhouse and its parent company. “It’s kind of an excuse to celebrate a different cultural party. We’re taking the idea of Oktoberfest and bringing it to Duluth and celebrating it here.”

The three-day event kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday with the Chmielewski Funtime Band. Mayor Don Ness will be there for the ceremonial tapping of the first keg. The festival continues til 9 p.m. Friday and runs from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with  more bands, food eating contests and tournaments.

You don’t have to dress up in traditional German garb to get in, but it’s encouraged. Kids are welcome, accompanied by their parents. And it won’t cost you anything to get in.

The hope is that it becomes an annual event that grows each year.

“We think it will become a pretty major event,” Nelson said.