Oktimberfest celebration Sept. 24

Sure – you know Oktoberfest: polka music, beer steins, crisp autumn air mingled with hearty German food.

But Oktimberfest?

Think Paul Bunyan in lederhosen.

In honor of the 125th birthday of both Grand Rapids and Itasca County, as well as the rich timber heritage of the region, the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has renamed their Oktoberfest event.

Starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 – the first Saturday of autumn – the sounds, sights, smells, and tastes of Oktoberfest will be given a Northwoods twist.

“From our first Oktoberfest at the Forest History Center in 2014, we saw German traditions combine with local food, Minnesota beer, and Minnesota musical talent,” explained Community Foundation Executive Director Chris Fulton.

“Oktimberfest is a way to celebrate both the multi-cultural forestry heritage of our region and the fun that comes with the annual harvest festival feel of Oktoberfest.”

You couldn’t pick a more ideal spot than the 170 acres of the Forest History Center to enjoy the very first weekend of fall.

The 100-foot-tall fire tower will be open until dusk for those wanting a panoramic view of fall foliage, while a carriage pulled by the Center’s own draft horses will offer tours of the grounds throughout the evening.

A toasty bonfire will blaze as the 10 musicians of the Elk River German Band perform in the main festival tent.

The smells of crisp fried Wienerschnitzel, char-grilled bratwurst made with local dark beer and served with spicy home-made mustard and sauerkraut, melt-in-your-mouth sauerbraten with kohlrabi slaw, and delicious German desserts and coffee will fill the night air and the dining tent.

The whoops and hollers of friends competing at hammerschlagen, the barrel roll, and the stein contests will be heard alongside lively conversation.

And then there will be the beer!

German-style brews exclusively from Minnesota will be featured at Oktimberfest. As craft and micro-breweries explode in popularity here in Minnesota, varieties of Oktoberfest, Marzen, Pilsner, and Lager, all made in Minnesota, will showcase our state’s brewing talent.

When it comes to local brewing talent, the Boreal Brewers, our local home-brew club, will be showcasing their latest creations too. Their unique brews, always a popular part of the event, will be sampled throughout the evening as the fire crackles and the polka music fills the night air.

To help folks get in the mood of enjoying good beer and good food in the crisp, late summer weather, the Community Foundation is encouraging people to post pictures of al fresco dining and drinking on our Facebook page.

The best outdoor beer drinking photo will win a gift card for Jerry’s Warehouse Liquor, and the best outdoor dining photo will win a gift card for Mr. Roberts Restaurant.

Tickets, which include four servings of delicious food, are available at our downtown office and on our facebook and website; the cost is only $25 if you buy them before the event. Tickets are $35 at the door.

So, get your polka shoes shined up, your best flannel ready, and come hungry and thirsty for Oktimberfest at the Forest History Center Saturday, Sept. 24!

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