Oktoberfest a family event? You bet – if you’re talking about the 25th anniversary celebration beginning Thursday in Addison. This year’s bigger and better than ever traditional “bierfest” will feature a wide array of children’s events as well as a huge area of games and “midway” rides for the youngsters – and for parents and grandparents as well.
There are also adult games, a corporate challenge, a “spelling bee” and a Saturday morning charity walk/run to benefit pediatric cancer research. And then there’s the beer. And the wine. And the food.
Gates open at 6 p.m. Thursday, and the celebration continues through the weekend, with music, shows, arts and crafts, rides, beer and wine tastings, informative seminars, a yodeling competition and even a Dachshund parade. What could be more fun than getting out in the fresh air, sampling interesting food, tipping a stein of German beer or sampling a glass of wine, listening to rousing music and dancing a polka or two?
Admission is reasonably priced at $10, with $5 “anytime” discount tickets available from Metroplex Albertson’s stores for Saturday and Sunday. Evening tickets at the gates are $5. Coupons for food, drinks and rides are $1 each, with special deals offered for multiple coupon purchases. Even the weather looks as if it will cooperate, with pleasantly mild, sunny days and cool evenings predicted through the weekend for North Texas.
Festivities are timed to coincide with the traditional German celebration, which is a 16-day good-time marathon, ending the first Sunday in October. Two hundred two years ago, on Oct. 12, 1810, a royal wedding celebration in a field outside the city gates of Munich, to which the entire population had been invited, subsequently gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest.
The Bavarian celebration closed that first year with horse races, held in honor of the royal family. For many years the races were the most popular event, but later gave way to agricultural shows, games, carousels and other amusements, beer halls, music and dancing.
Only wars and cholera epidemics have interrupted the traditional celebration of Oktoberfest, a total of 24 times over the two centuries, and today Munich throws the largest “party” in the world, beating even Mardi Gras for sheer numbers of people. This year marks the 179th event at the traditional field outside the city gates, highlighted by brass bands, riflemen’s events, costume parades and, of course, beer and breweries. More than six million people attend the Munich festival, where the beer halls each can seat up to 5,000 patrons.
But for a small town in North Texas, Addison ranks right up there on the celebration scale. For additional information and a full schedule of events, visit here.
The sprawling Addison Circle site was a hive of activity behind the barriers Tuesday as workers and rental equipment trucks went about the business of transforming the grassy, popular gathering spot into a carney midway and the equivalent of a German field, or “wiesn,” complete with tents and banners. The ferris wheel and rides sat silent, with only a hint of the bustling festival grounds that would appear, as if by magic, to delight the crowds.
Thursday evening marks the kickoff of the four-day event in this community just north of Dallas, with a traditional keg-tapping by Mayor Todd Meier scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Schloss Addison Tent. The object is to pound a bronze spout into the keg with a wooden mallet without spilling any beer. Admission is free to the public on Thursday evening, to get the celebration started.
But that doesn’t mean a lack of activities for those who visit Addison Circle. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday is a Corporate Challenge, to get the celebration going. Presented by the Addison Business Association, the “Biz-Spiele” will feature teams competing in such things as Bier-Barrel Rolling, a Stein Race, and Bier Barrel Bowling. The games will be held in the Sporthalle (Addison Conference Center).
Also on Thursday evening will be a “DAWG” event, beginning at 6:30 p.m., featuring an 80-foot pretzel tunnel to be navigated by dogs trained by the Dallas Agility Working Group. Dogs of all sizes and breeds will run the agility course. A more traditionally German Dachshund parade begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, with races to follow at 2 p.m. In conjunction with these doggie events, fest attendees may visit an “adopt a Dachshund” table sponsored by the Dallas/Fort Worth Dachshund Club.
Friday evening offers more competition with a yodeling contest and spelling bee.
In addition to carnival-style food with a German twist, including sausage on a stick, pretzels – both salted and with cinnamon, and smoked turkey legs, Oktoberfest includes the Brau Haus, featuring a full-service, three-course meal by reservation only, Thursday through Sunday evenings. New this year as well is a Kaffee and Kuchen Haus, offering such tempting treats as gingerbread cookies, strudel and German chocolate cake.
Hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Parking is free, but there are sure to be crowds, and some streets will be blocked. Past visitors to Addison’s Oktoberfest testify that there is great fun to be had there, and this silver anniversary year promises a wide variety of activities for the entire family.