For over 200 years, Oktoberfest celebrations have brought food, music and beer to the masses—along with the opportunity to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. But Oktoberfest is more than just German; it is Bavarian, rooted in the geography and culture that is broader than modern-day Germany. Neighboring countries also participate in the feast, and it has spread around the world. Just like St. Patrick’s Day allows us to channel our inner Irishman, Oktoberfest allows everyone to be Bavarian. But there is more to Oktoberfest than just beer.
Oktoberfest began in 1810, as a reception for a royal wedding. The royal Bavarian family, being close to its people, celebrated the betrothal in a vast meadowland. It must have been one good party! The celebration stuck, and in years following, Oktoberfest incorporated the celebration of harvest, agriculture and horse racing. Oktoberfest has continued to transcend its original roots, but it maintains its authenticity because it has and always will be a great party—for everyone.
The true meaning of Oktoberfest appreciates the widespread acceptance of embracing another culture, says Robert Von Dassanowsky, German studies and film professor at UCCS and former president of the Austrian Studies Association.
“There is a wonderful unity in diversity, and Oktoberfest shows the world and the U.S. a different kind of Germany after 1945,” he says.
After World War II, there was a stigma attached to being German, Italian or Japanese in America. Many immigrants tried to acclimate by hiding some of their cultural pride. Von Dassanowsky says Oktoberfest has helped to incorporate these elements into strengthening American culture.
“The U.S. will always be a melting pot,” he says. “That’s part of the richness of this country. [It’s productive to discover] how much alike we really are.”
As globalization has spread, it has brought more awareness that we are more similar than we might have realized. We listen to much of the same music, watch the same films, and seem to genuinely enjoy celebrating each other’s cultural heritage. Thus the popularity of having a fiesta on Cinco de Mayo or eating coq au vin on Bastille Day. Even as ethnic conflicts and divisions seem to be flaring up nationally and abroad, Oktoberfest is a refreshing reminder that people will be coming together to celebrate how much we actually share.
“Oktoberfest celebrates humanism, stopping and celebrating life, harvest, growth, hops, beer,” Von Dassanowsky says. “And authentic [to the experience] is authentically enjoying it.”
We’ll raise a stein to that.
Where to Celebrate Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is on. Here’s where to get in touch with your inner Bavarian at festivals and breweries in the Springs and beyond.
The neighboring burg to the north is hosting its 11th Oktoberfest and partnering with German brewing company, Erdinger Weisbrau. This free festival features over 75 vendors, German cuisine, biergarten, kunstlerischen (translation: artistic area), children’s arts and crafts, inflatable obstacle course, beer, wine, schnapps, a Rocktoberfest concert, Miss Oktoberfest, bingo, midway games and more.
Fri. 6-10:30 p.m. Sat. 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sun 10 a.m.-5 p.m. O’Brien Park, 10795 S. Victorian Dr., Parker, Free.
Rocky Mountain OktoberfestPlus, Woodland Park
The 19th annual observance offers its “own little twist,” says Debbie Miller, president of Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce. Other cultural vendors participate, such as High Grade Jamaican food truck. And “Beer for Boots” donates the first beer or bratwurst to active duty military or to a military spouse of an active deployed member.
Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Ute Pass Cultural Center, 210 E. Midland Ave. Woodland Park, $6 adult; $5 seniors (62+) and active duty military; Free under 21. No pets.
Colorado Springs Oktoberfest
Security Service Field (Sky Sox Stadium) is site of the Springs’ biggest Oktoberfest festivities. You’ll find traditional German music, Paulaner beers, singing pumpkins, an 8K run, stein-hoisting competition, dachshund dash, German dancers, traditional dress contest and a car show.
Fri. 4-11 p.m. Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Security Service Field, 4385 Tutt Blvd., Weekend pass $28, Daily fees $10-$12 adult, $10 seniors (65+), $5 kids (6-20).
Castle Rock Oktoberfest
Downtown Castle Rock will be filled with food vendors and a lineup of breweries: Lone Tree Brewing, Blue Spruce, Barnett & Son, Empyrean, Horny Goat, Northwest Brewing, Pikes Peak, Rockyard, Erdinger and more.
Sat. 1-8 p.m. Wilcox Square, Wilcox St. between 3rd and 5th streets, Castle Rock.
So technically a bar, not a brewery—but the Republic has an impressive Oktoberfest tapping scheduled, featuring the likes of Tivoli Brewing Union Märzen, Grimm Brothers Farmers Daughter, Avery’s The Kaiser and other special Oktoberfest beers from Fort Collins Brewery, Left Hand Brewing and 4 Noses Brewing. German-style food specials are on the menu too.
Fri. 5 p.m. 112 N. Nevada Ave.
Paradox Brewing Company
The unflinchingly wayward brewers in Divide are hosting an authentic German pig roast, special Oktoberfest beer and live music—all for a good cause. All proceeds from ticket, beer, mug and shirt sales will benefit International Surgical Missions, a Colorado charity that sends doctors and nurses abroad to provide medical care for those in need.
Sat. 12-8 p.m. 10 Buffalo Ct., Divide. $22.99-$52.99.
Bristol Brewing Company
Find them at Woodland Park’s Rocky Mountain Oktoberfest. Can’t make it? Their Red Baron Oktoberfest beer—a Vienna style, red lager—has been tapped and is available now and through the season.
1604 S. Cascade Ave.
Great Storm Brewing
Oktoberfest at Great Storm includes tapping their Red Oktober, a mashup of Irish and German styles with a Russian name—plus Gdansk Gdansk Revolution, a Baltic Porter spiced with bay leaves. Smokin J’s BBQ will provide the food, and there are door prizes from 6-9 p.m. You might even win the raffle for two tickets to Great American Beer Festival coming up in Denver.
Oct. 6-8. 204 Mountain View Ln. #3
Peaks N Pines
The east-side brewers partner with private chefs, Fly Boys, to offer an Oktoberfest pairing dinner. Expect wurst, Weiner schnitzel, spaetzle and much more. Watch for another partnership with neighboring German restaurant Schnitzel Fritz for another late September Oktoberfest celebration.
Tues. 6:00 p.m. Peaks N Pines, 4005 Tutt Blvd., $50
JAKs will release a pumpkin cream ale in late September.
For over 40 years, Edelweiss has been the spot for authentic Bavarian fare. Oktoberfest brings nightly German food and beer specials including ‘brats, kassler rippchen (smoked pork chop), schweinshaxe (bone-in ham shank) and beers Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Paulaner and Oktoberfest Weisen.
Nightly, 34 E. Ramona Ave.
Plenty of local brewers are getting into the seasonal spirit too. Here are a few to sample throughout the fall.
A Dunkelweiss and barrel-aged Braggot are scheduled for release, as well as a special brew on tap made from freshly picked hops.
A few fall beers are scheduled for tapping, including:
Amber Ale Firkin with a blend of tropical fruits, Sept. 17
Cherry Brown Ale, Sept. 22
Cappuccino Tiramisu Stout, Sept. 29
Iron Bird Brewing Company
Watch for a pumpkin beer in September.