Fall is finally in the air in New Orleans, the summer heat is slowly fading away, and it’s time for everyone to party like it’s a night in Munich because it’s time for the 2016 New Orleans Oktoberfest.
Located at the Rivertown Exhibition Hall at 415 Williams Blvd. in Kenner, Oktoberfest will be held on October 7-8, October 14-15 and October 21-22. It is presented by and also benefits the nonprofit Deutsches Haus, the largest German cultural organization in the Gulf South. For over 50 years, Oktoberfest has been delighting locals with traditional food, music and other opportunities each year to experience the culture and history of Germany.
Oktoberfest has received a new sponsor, Condor Airlines, which is providing New Orleanians the opportunity to actually experience Germany firsthand. According to Theresa Crosby, executive director of the Deutsches Haus, Condor Airlines is entering the New Orleans marketplace with a nonstop flight from New Orleans to Frankfurt starting in May of 2017.
“It’s a great partnership for us,” Crosby said. “They’re also donating two tickets, which we will be raffling off to patrons at $5 a chance, to fly on Condor to Frankfurt.”
On the very first day of Oktoberfest, the festivities will begin with the Ceremonial Keg Tapping. The keg tapping is an inauguration that symbolizes the opening of the festival to everyone and for all of the fest’s goods to flow to each and every one of the participants.
“It’s the initiating of the festival for the vendors to begin to serve all of the patrons,” Crosby said. “It’s celebratory, but it also signifies ‘Let the beer flow and let the food flow.’”
Make sure to come to Oktoberfest on an empty stomach because a wide array of delicious German food will be waiting for you. The dinner plates, which are $14, include your choice of an entrée, sausage, two sides and bread with butter. The entrées that will be provided include Jagerschnitzel, which is fried pork with mushroom sauce, and a Three Sausage Plate, as well as a Stuffed Cabbage Roll during the first weekend, German Meatloaf with bacon and mushrooms during the second weekend, and Smoked Pork Chop with apple and walnut sauce during the third weekend. Don’t forget to also pick up a BratBurger, a German Pizza, or Buttered Pretzels throughout the night, as well as a wide selection of beers, wines and Schnapps.
“We have 16 German beers, but we’ll also have some craft beers from Urban South Brewery and NOLA Brewery. 40 Arpent also does a special blend of Oktoberfest brew for us, and we will have Sierra Nevada, which is a new beer we’re offering here at the fest as well,” Crosby said. “We also have a new Drunken Pig Sandwich and jumbo pretzels with dipping sauces.”
While you’re stuffing yourself to the brim with all kinds of German delicacies, be prepared to dance in your seat or with a group of friends while being serenaded by polkas, waltzes and other traditional tunes from the many featured bands performing at the fest. In addition to many local German-style bands, Oktoberfest will feature returning bands that will make you do the Chicken Dance like no one is watching, such as Das Ist Lustig, Yodel Blitz and The Bräts.
In addition to all of the different food and drinks that will be available at Oktoberfest, the festival will also provide many souvenirs for festivalgoers to look at and to bring back home. Some of these souvenirs include the 2016 limited Oktoberfest steins, beer boots, mugs, jewelry, hats, clothing and much more. Oktoberfest will also hold a daily Masskrugstemmen, also known as a beer stein-holding contest, each day throughout the festival.
“It’s a beer stein that’s filled. They have to hold their arm out straight, and it’s whoever holds it the longest and doesn’t drop it that ends up winning,” Crosby said. “They win the stein itself and, since it’s filled with beer, they win the beer as well.”
In addition to the beer stein-holding contest, the festival will also provide other activities that people can participate in. People can watch the stylish dance moves of the 610 Stompers and Disco Amigos. There will be a 5K Oktoberfest Run/Walk put on by New Orleans Track Club on October 8, which you can register for at www.runnotc.org. For an extra dose of adorable, there will also be the Dachshund Dash on October 22, which will benefit NOLA Dachshund Rescue.
“We have approximately 60 to 70 dachshund doggies who will be participating in the dash and we have a variety of heats,” Crosby said. “We have the puppies, we have the adults, we have the seniors, and then if we have any wheelies, we do the wheelie race as well.”
Not only will Oktoberfest give people a taste of German music, food, dancing, beer, wine and Schnapps, it will also provide them the chance to learn more about Deutschland herself. The fest will have a historical booth sponsored by Doerr Furniture that will give information about Germany, German companies, the culture, famous Germans and so forth.
“Oktoberfest allows us to introduce German culture to the New Orleans community,” Crosby said. “It’s an opportunity for the community of New Orleans to come out and sample German culture and, of course, our hospitality, which we like to call ‘Gemütlichkeit.’”
General admission to Oktoberfest is $8, while children 12 and under, as well as Deutsches Haus members, can get in for free. So come on out, put on your imaginary lederhosen, and have a great time at Oktoberfest 2016.