September 7, 2016
By Dani Nichols
Photo at right: Frauleins demonstrate the skill of hoisting multiple beer steins at the Bend Oktoberfest. Photo courtesy of Downtown Bend Business Association
Walking down a charming avenue in central Oregon on the third weekend in September, I am suddenly transported from a mountainous getaway town to an Old World street festival. There’s an Oompah band playing traditional German music, bratwursts sizzle on a giant grill, and is that lederhosen I see?
This is Downtown Bend’s annual Oktoberfest and it’s a tongue-in-cheek, good-humored salute to an autumn celebration of the Old Country in Europe.
There’s a yodeling contest, costume show and “hammerschlaggen” in which participants race to pound nails into large beams to the cheers of a boisterous crowd.
Tricycle and wiener dog races round out the festivities with many contestants traveling from all over the Northwest to enter their dachshunds. The entire Oktoberfest event is an old-fashioned community celebration, set in Bend’s quaint historic downtown.
The 12th annual Bend Oktoberfest, Sept. 16 –17, raises money for the Downtown Bend Business Association (DBBA), a nonprofit dedicated to keeping the town’s historic district clean, vibrant and beautiful.
DBBA helps fund the beautiful summertime flower baskets throughout downtown, as well as daily sidewalk and street cleaning. The care that DBBA takes is obvious and is one reason Bend’s downtown is home to award-winning restaurants as well as unique boutiques, breweries, coffee shops and more. It’s a perfect setting for a getaway weekend or a family-friendly festival and Bend Oktoberfest offers both.
According to locals, Central Oregon is home to some of the best beer and cider in the country, and there’s no shortage of libations as many of the best come to Bend’s Octoberfest. This year festival-goers can enjoy beverages from Three Creeks Brewing,
Bend Brewing Company, Atlas Cider Company, Deschutes Brewery, Worthy Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project and many more. Bavarian wines will be available for the non-beer drinkers.
Get your pour in a special beer stein and while you can order an IPA, the breweries also make German-style beers just for the event.
Taylor Sausages will crank out delicious frankfurters and sauerkraut all weekend and many additional food vendors will serve a variety of German sides. There’s even a family fun area, complete with bouncy houses and games for the kiddos.
For DBBA, Bend Oktoberfest is a way to do two things at once: give back to the community and raise funds to keep downtown Bend beautiful year-round. Rod Porsche, DBBA’s Executive Director, said the 2015 event broke records with 12,000 attendees draining close to 100 kegs of beer and downing 1,000 pounds of bratwurst.
The event is free to attend, making it popular with locals and visitors alike.
Stop by to dance the polka and hoist a stein—you might find yourself cheering for a racing wiener dog, showing off your yodel and planning to return next year. Prost!
Dani Nichols is a Central Oregon writer with a taste for all things Old World. When she’s not attending Bend festivals, you can find her kayaking or hiking with her husband and 1-year-old daughter.