Thousands frolic at Portland’s Oktoberfest

See why so many people – especially families – make historic Oaks Amusement Park their Oktoberfest destination …

The Country Dutchmen play lively polka music in the small “Festhallen” at the Oaks Amusement Park Oktoberfest.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When summer weather quickly departs the Pacific Northwest, as it usually suddenly does, it signals the start of the Oktoberfest season. And, instead of driving to distant towns to celebrate the Germanic fall tradition, many people join in the fun right here in East Portland at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park.

“What really sets the Oaks Park Oktoberfest apart from other celebrations, is that it’s set up to welcome the entire family,” explained the celebration’s hostess for the past nine seasons, Oaks Amusement Park Promotion and Events Manager Emily MacKay.

Beer-tapper Donald Edgar, and Oaks Amusement Park Promotion and Events Manager Emily MacKay, get ready to fill another commutative stein at the 2013 Oaks Amusement Park Oktoberfest.

“Being family-friendly means that our entire Oktoberfest is made so that parents feel comfortable bringing their kids to experience it with them, at all hours, in either festhallen, at any event of our many events,” MacKay told East Portland News.

Now in its 22nd year, Portland’s premier German-style fall festival continued to offer authentic food, Paulaner beer, live oompah-band music, and dancing in two halls. As before, there were local craft vendors, wiener dog races, agility dog demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, Kinderplatz children’s activities, and, of course, the infamous Chicken Dance contest.

A new event this year was the “Barn Hunt Races”, in which dogs dashed through a retrieval maze.

Traveling from their homes in Mt. Angel, The Kleinstädtlers demonstrate dances performed to popular music in a style they call “modernized polka”.

Arriving dressed for fun are Oaks Amusement Park Oktoberfest revelers Lori Bokovoy and Brian Huffman.

“I always look forward to the food,” MacKay said. “Everyone enjoys dining on our delicious sausages, provided again this year by Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen in the Brooklyn neighborhood. And, I can’t wait for a slice of German chocolate cake!”

She also looks forward to three days of live music, played from three stages around the park. “I don’t care that my co-workers make fun of me, because I start listening to polka music in August as we get ready for our Oktoberfest!”

The finalists in this annual odd contest show the crowd expert performances of The Chicken Dance.

The ever-popular “Condiment Art” contest is a staple of the Oaks Amusement Park Oktoberfest celebration.

Then, as one of the Pacific Northwest’s hottest polka bands, The Polkatones, played the first few bars of “Vogerltanz”, MacKay said, “You know what that means! It’s time for ‘The Chicken Dance’ contest!!”

On the large hall’s dance floor, young and old revelers made the motion of clacking their beaks, flapping their feathers, shaking their tail feathers. and clapping to the beat of the lively polka tune.

Again this year, Oaks Amusement Park proved the total Oktoberfest experience, right here in town, for those who did not chicken out!

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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