SUMMIT COUNTY—Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year for kids, but for at least some beer-loving adults, the magic of Santa may be surpassed by the tidal wave of sudsy brews that make their appearance during Oktoberfest season.
And while the original Munich version may have been a folksy and quaint celebration of a royal wedding, the Oktoberfest concept has long since transcended most national and cultural boundaries to find an adopted home in at least 50 countries, including even Japan, where beer lovers started a distinctly oriental edition of the festival, no doubt after some Japanese world travelers returned home from the Munich revelries with the aim of recreating a similar world party vibe in their own country.
This weekend, it's Breckenridge's turn, and the Summit County town has always prided itself in putting on one of the most authentic recreations of the Oktoberfest west of the Mississippi.
For a couple of days, Main Street becomes Little Bavaria, with traditional Blue-and-white checked flags waving, Wienerschnitzel sandwiches flying off the grill, and, yes, many kegs of beer being consumed.
This year, Breckenridge has extended the event to include a Friday afternoon street party from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. with the clear intention of luring visitors into local restaurants after the party ends — and getting them to spend an extra night in town.
“We see a lot of people arriving for the weekend on Friday afternoon and looking for something to do,” said Breckenridge Resort Chamber events director Sandy Metzger. “Since Brewmaster’s tickets aren’t usually available the day of the event, we wanted to offer another option.”
To celebrate the Friday addition, event organizers are offering two free beers with pre-purchase of a special Oktoberfest beer mug. The brewmaster's dinner is already sold out but there's still room at the after-party Friday evening at the Salt Creek Saloon.
Festivities continue Saturday and Sunday with keg-tapping ceremonies, German food, Oompah and polka music, Bavarian dancers, children’s activities and even a 5k run— an addition that the Munich founders could never have envisioned.
The official beer is, of course, Paulaner from Munich, served in special commemorative steins from the original home of the Oktoberfest.
All weekend, the Barney Ford House Museum lawn will be home to a new, free family zone, a fenced area with toys where families are invited to relax in the shade. Bathrooms will be available, beer will be allowed on the lawn and the music stage will be visible from the lawn. As in past years, additional kids’ activities will take place on the Riverwalk Center lawn.
Along with the traditional Paulaner, the Breckenridge Brewery will serve seasonal microbrews, and there will even be a gluten-free offering. VIP packages includesteins, beer tickets, hors d' oeuvres and a private, shaded seating area with additional beer and wine pours. Visit BreckenridgeOktoberfest.com for a complete schedule of events.