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Sound the Alphorn

If you’re looking for a German experience in Oklahoma that includes endless bratwursts, lederhosen, beer, dancing, and cavorting, look no further than Oktoberfest.

Article
Lindsay Morris
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
September 28, 2019

While many national Oktoberfest events claim to be wunderbar, Tulsa’s has been named a top-five Oktoberfest in the United States by USA Today and Condé Nast Traveler magazine. So, prepare to have your lederhosen blown away by this genuinely magnificent German experience that is celebrating its 41st year.

“We make it a goal to produce an event that looks, feels, tastes, and sounds as much like the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, as possible,” says festival director Tonja Carrigg.

Oktoberfest takes place Oct. 17-20 at River West Festival Park. The festival entrance amazes first-time guests with an authentic Bavarian village complete with yards of ribbon, cloth, banners, flags, and beads decorated by loyal Oktoberfest volunteers.

One of the most memorable, eye-catching attractions at Oktoberfest each year is the glockenspiel — a giant, two-story cuckoo clock with live performers who emerge from within and perform every hour on the hour. The first story of the clock features a bar, and the second story hosts a giant stage.

With the ever-growing popularity of Oktoberfest, many people make it an annual tradition and have even invested in German costumes to wear to the event.
With the ever-growing popularity of Oktoberfest, many people make it an annual tradition and have even invested in German costumes to wear to the event.

“It is the anchor performance element,” Carrigg says. “Every hour, these people pop out and perform, skit, ring a bell, and throw beads and T-shirts.”

Speaking of entertainment, Oktoberfest features plenty of live bands, including two coming from Germany.

Performers include Dorfrocker, which blends polka, rock, pop, and folk sound; Alex Meixner, a Grammy Nominee known for his wild, energetic shows that include polka versions of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train;” and Bavarski, an interesting blend of a jazz organist, a versatile drummer and an opera singer.

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Oktoberfest is beer. The beer is indeed flowing in abundance at Oktoberfest. With nearly 80 beer brands available, there is something for everyone. Carrigg says Oktoberfest also offers ciders, gluten-free options, wines, and spirits.

“There’s not a beverage we don’t have,” Carrigg says. This includes root beer for the kiddos.

Oktoberfest takes place Oct. 17-20 at River West Festival Park.
Oktoberfest takes place Oct. 17-20 at River West Festival Park.

One of the goals of Oktoberfest is to teach people a little German, and one of the first phrases guests will learn is “bier bitte,” meaning “beer please.”

With all the beer being consumed, you’ll need some delicious, hearty food to balance things out. German-style food is in abundance, with delicacies such as apple and cherry strudel, Bavarian cheesecake, bratwurst sauerkraut, and potato pancakes. Some local vendors such as Siegi’s and the German-American Society of Tulsa feature food booths, and some food vendors come from as far away as Ohio.  

Keep in mind that Oktoberfest is also family-friendly. While the adults mix and mingle over libations, the kids can get their fill of activities. Aside from amusing events like the Dachshund Dash, Bier Barrel Race, MassKrug Relay, and Chicken Dance, Oktoberfest features an entire youth area (KinderPlatz) dedicated to activities for children. Just outside of the JugendZelt tent area is a carnival filled with all the favorite rides and games.

Activities for children include sand art with mini vintage glass bottles, Perler beads and painting, LEGO creation station, ring toss, sandbag toss, and the chance to meet and ride Hertog Jan von Paddentsteeg, an imported Dutch Friesian horse.

“We try to make it as easy as possible for families to stick together,” Carrigg says. “We’ve grown to have so many things happening that keep everybody entertained and active at all times.”

With the ever-growing popularity of Oktoberfest, many people make it an annual tradition and have even invested in German costumes to wear to the event. “It’s simple to find Bavarian items to wear — a hat, beads, a dirndl (dress) or lederhosen,” Carrigg says. She says German items are available at Ehrle’s in Tulsa or online.

Of course, plenty of German items are available to purchase at Oktoberfest as well. The event hosts a large arts and crafts market house, with everything from woodworking, and packaged food products, to Bavarian hats, pins, and scarves. Everything for purchase is authentically German-style.

While Oktoberfest officially opens to the public Oct. 17, Gemütlichkeit Corporate Night ushers in the event Oct. 16. Companies can purchase tables of 30 for their employees, and they will get an exclusive preview of everything Oktoberfest has to offer.

“We want people to have the most authentic Bavarian experience in Oklahoma,” Carrigg says.

Oktoberfest wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community through corporate sponsorships and volunteer support, Carrigg says. “It takes hundreds of volunteer hours to produce this thing. It takes a huge, dedicated team, and we’re fortunate to have that.”

LOCATOR
Oktoberfest
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave. | Tulsa
tulsaoktoberfest.org
Oct. 16: Corporate Night
Oct. 17: 5-11 p.m.
Oct. 18-19: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Oct. 20: Noon-6 p.m.