Oaks’ Oktoberfest brings German celebration to SE Portland

You don’t have to travel far to enjoy one of the best Oktoberfest events! Take a look at the fun everyone had at the Oaks Park event, right here …

These fun musical cut-ups, providing a rollicking good time, are the High Five Band from The Dalles.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While some people prefer to travel for an hour or more to attend a traditional German Oktoberfest harvest celebration, thousands of Portlanders take in the same sort of festivities each year at Oaks Park.

From small musical groups to a full polka band, sounds of lively music drifted through the century-old amusement park from as many as three venues at the same time.

“My lederhosen are original, and da genuine article,” confides Al Planatscher – an immigrant from Tiraol, Austria. “I make all these pants myself, since 25 years.”

Daughter and dad Kristy and Byron White drove together to dance and dine at the Oaks’ Oktoberfest – all the way from Bellingham, Washington.

Food was savory and plentiful. Guests dined on sausages, schnitzels, and all the trimmings. The made-while-you-watch soft pretzel we purchased was the best we’ve eaten.

As we strolled around the temporarily-Germanic-decorated park, we stopped to talk with Oaks Park’s Senior Manager, Mary Beth Coffey. “I agree with people who say that our Oktoberfest is ‘the pretty one’. Set in our wooded area, overlooking the Willamette River, overseas guests say it reminds them of their homeland.”

This Portland choir sings traditional German songs. The group’s name, Liederkreis, means “Circle of Songs”.

When the crowd chants, “Ziggy, zoggy, ziggy, zoggy, hoy, hoy, hoy, hoy”, everyone lifts their beverage of choice, in a toast.

Because they’re celebrating German culture, Coffey says they strive for authenticity. “We have really worked at having German food, bands, and beer. The German Society is here, and the German School does the kids’ events. It is a way for people to celebrate a different culture for a day, isn’t it?”

The Portland-based Tyrolean Dancers provide an energetic, swirling, fancy-stepping demonstration.

Flap, Flap, Beak Beak, everyone! The traditional Oktoberfest Chicken Dance is led by The Oregon Chicken!

Then, we hit Coffey with the big question: “Do you dance the Chicken Dance?”

“Yes,” she replied with a big smile, “I indeed do the Chicken Dance. The Oregon Fryer Commission is our main sponsor, so I’ve had the pleasure of dancing with ‘The Oregon Chicken’ as he leads it, front and center.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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