Oktoberfest is an annual German festival that started over 200 years ago that celebrates German culture, food and beer. It started because of a royal marriage between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810 in Munich, Germany. It normally runs for 16 days, with the last day being the first Sunday in October. In Munich, the event garners an annual average of six million visitors a year, looking for German beer, food and activities.
On Saturday, The Bier Stein on Willamette St. celebrated its own version of the festival from 12 p.m. to midnight.
The event kicked off at noon with an opening ceremony. In the back bar, local celebrity Rick Dancer tapped a traditional cask from Weihenstephan. Shortly after, a performance from The Eugene Gleemen followed.
The Gleemen, comprised of about 45 members, is the oldest organized men’s chorus in Oregon. Since 1926, the group practices weekly and performs at events.
Though the group does not exclusively perform German songs for German themed events, they brought a few traditional drinking songs for Oktoberfest. Clad in matching yellow polos, hoisting steins of beer in the air and swaying back and forth, the Gleemen performed for about 20 minutes.
Nearby, Ayinger, a traditional Bavarian brewery, hosted a game of Hammerschlagen. The rules are simple: bang a nail into a flat stump using the skinny end of a hammer.
Ayinger promoter Rick Nickerson led attendees through the game, encouraging them and giving them prizes at the end. Nickerson said, “It’s a traditional drinking German game and a great way to connect with people.”
Not only does Oktoberfest celebrate German beer, but wine as well.
At the other end of the bar, German wine vendor Monika Rauch hosted samples from her company Kastle Hill. Rauch has a warehouse in Eugene with over 60 varieties of German wine that she supplied to retailers and restaurants throughout the area.
After coming to Oregon 15 years ago from Germany, Rauch enjoys sharing her country’s wines in the Pacific Northwest. “Germany has amazing red wines. Really deep, dark grapes, lots of flavor,” said Rauch, describing the array of samples she offered.
Dre Borkowski, The Bier Stein’s events and marketing manager, was looking forward to this year’s event. “Being a German beer bar, we’re excited to be hosting our own version of Oktoberfest which features 14 different festbiers.”
Festbier is a fuller, rich seasonal lager, according to German beer company Weihenstephaner. It is especially brewed for this season, and holds true to Bavarian celebrations.
The Bier Stein hadn’t hosted an official Oktoberfest for a few years, but decided to bring it back this year. Featuring both imported German beers and local ones, the restaurant provided attendees with an authentic event 5,000 miles away from its original location.
Correction on Wednesday, Oct. 2: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the staff of Bier Stein tapped a traditional cask from Weihenstephan to kick off the Oktoberfest celebration. The article has been updated to reflect that the cask was tapped by local celebrity Rick Dancer.