Cheers to Oktoberfest

a beer-lovers' German cultural celebration in the heart of Chippewa Falls

Marie Anthony, photos by Andrea Paulseth

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about Oktoberfest that gives me the urge to throw on a dirndl. I’m pretty sure I could rock the Alpine cap as well (though that's not traditional for us German women). Yes, if I could, I’d sport my dirndl with pride. And I’d spin around my home singing, “Warm, salted, pretzels and bratwurst with kraut – these are a few of my favorite thiiiings!”

While I could give Julie Andrews a run for her money, I can promise you that Chippewa Falls’ rendition of Oktoberfest promises to be far more entertaining than any German-Austrian Sound of Music remix I can dream up.

Chippewa Falls is celebrating its 15th Annual Oktoberfest Sept. 15-17 at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, and this year will be their biggest celebration to date. The festivities kick off at the Leinie Lodge on Friday, with the Golden Keg Procession and the tapping of the keg at the fairgrounds to follow. The festival will feature more than 30 entertainers for all ages as well. Chippewa Falls is also excited to welcome back The Swing Crew – and yes – Crazy George the Accordion Man will be there. (You didn’t seriously think they'd throw a party without George, did you?) Crazy George will be hosting all sorts of friendly hijinks with sing-a-longs and tons of accordion-pumping fun at the Famileintreff (Family Fun Tent).

For those who aren’t into sing-a-longs, there’s much more to do and see to keep the party going. If dancing’s more your thing, be sure to check out the Pomeranian Dancers. Or, if you have a competitive spirit, give Hammerschlägen (the nail-driving competition) a whirl. And for those with a knack for strategy and risk, there will be a sheepshead and euchre tournament on Saturday. And let’s not forget about the beer stein holding or sauerkraut eating competitions.

I could go on for pages about all the fun and exciting things in store for festival-goers this year. There’s a reason they’ve compared Chippewa Falls’ Oktoberfest to “the happiest place on earth!” With that in mind, I think I’m going to place my dirndl in safe-keeping for now, stop twirling around the house, and get to work on building up my sauerkraut eating skills (maybe – for my husband’s sake – I’ll keep it to sheepshead and euchre). We look forward to seeing you all at Oktoberfest this year.

Prost!