Claudia Elliott

Just a few hours after the mayor of Munich tapped the first barrel of beer to kick off this year’s Oktoberfest in Germany, the bandshell area of Azalea Park in Brookings began to fill with people Saturday.

It was the second annual Brookings Oktoberfest.

About 6 million people are expected to attend Oktoberfest this year in the Bavarian city where the famous folk festival started in 1810. The Brookings event wasn’t nearly that large, with about 1,000 people attending, but it made up for that with community spirit.

Dirndls and lederhosen — or at least T-shirts approximating the style of traditional Bavarian fashion — were everywhere, along with food, music and — of course — beer.

Sponsored by Chetco Brewing Co. and The Vista Pub, with assistance from an extensive list of local companies and organizations, the event included more than 33 beers from Oregon craft brewers.

Despite the rain that hampered the first event last year, visitors Johnny and Linda Schock returned from their home in Atascadero, California, to attend the festival with his parents John and Areta Schock of Brookings.

The elder John Schock said he loved last year’s event despite the rain. He was especially impressed by the organization of all the activities.

Master of ceremonies Raymond Ross of The Vista Pub kept the audience tuned into the action as youngsters enjoyed bounce houses and face-painting and people played yard Yahtzee and bean bag games.

Beer dunking

A dunk tank full of beer (well, at least some beer) was an attraction throughout the day as seven local celebrities took a beer bath for a good cause of their choice.

People paid $5 to throw four balls at a target, and if they hit it, down went the celebrity.

Local charities will receive their share of $793 from the dunk tank. Amounts raised were: $234 for the Brookings-Harbor Community Helpers Emergency Food Bank; $208 for Wild Rivers Animal Rescue; $251 for Soul Mates, a Rotary program; and $100 for St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church lunch program.

Ross was the reigning champ and won again, taking home the “Floating Keg” trophy.

Brewing demonstration

Connor Caldwell and Michael Glore of the Del Norte Homebrew Club provided a brewing demonstration during the event. They produced wort, an unfermented beer and explained the beer-making process.

Members of the club will divide it up and use it as a foundation to create a variety of beers.

Glore invited those in attendance to a program on homebrewing the club will present from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Chetco Community Library. The program is limited to the first 40 people; all must be at least 21 years old.

Music and food

Of course, there needs to be an oom-pah band at Oktoberfest, and the Oom-pah Rangers fit the bill. Following them on stage was Frankie C, then The Joint Chiefs.

Attendees had a chance to sample a variety of food at vendor booths.

Fun run

The day’s activities kicked off with the 5K Foamin’ Fun Run.

Alex Frederick of Chetco Brewing Co. said a lot of participants dressed up, and they could run with a plastic mug full of colored water. Time was subtracted based upon how much water the runner had remaining in his mug at the end.

Information about winners was not available at press time.

Purpose

Ross said the purpose of the event was to strengthen the community and bring visitors in during the off-season, in addition to raise funds for charity.

Frederick said many volunteers helped produce the event. A $1,000 grant and $2,000 loan from the Brookings Tourism Promotion Advisory Committee helped fund the event.

“We’d like to have people realize that Brookings is more than just a nice summer spot,” she said. “We have great local food, beer and nice parks. We’re about more than salmon.”

In 2015, the event took place in the parking lot at Century Park Plaza, near the Chetco Brewing Co.

The move to Azalea Park this year provided a better setting for the event but created difficulties because it had to wrap up by 8 p.m.

“I was turning people away at 7:30 because it wasn’t fair for them to buy a mug so close to the end,” Frederick said.

In coming years organizers hope to turn the event into more of a harvest festival with a farmers market and activities such as a sauerkraut making contest, she said.

Why September?

People often ask why Oktoberfest takes place in September. According to the official website of the Munich Oktoberfest, the first Oktoberfest was in honor of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage on Oct. 12, 1810, and lasted for five days.

When the celebration expanded in subsequent years, the beginning was moved forward to take advantage of better weather. In modern times the event has extended through the first weekend in October.

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