Music and mirth abound at Oaks ‘Oktoberfest’

See why folks from all over outer East Portland headed toward the Willamette River each year for this autumnal festival …

It’s nonstop fun for all ages, as the annual Oaks Amusement Park Oktoberfest gets underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

An annual end-of-summer tradition that keeps growing in popularity is Oktoberfest, held at non-profit Oaks Amusement Park.

From September 22-24, this celebration of all things Germanic again this year attracted record numbers of guests to dine, dance, and drink beer.

Oaks Amusement Park Promotions/Events Manager Emily MacKay, the Oktoberfest hostess, announces what’s next in the festivities.

“We do serve German Paulaner Oktoberfest beer, it’s the best there is!” exclaimed Oaks Amusement Park Promotions/Events Manager Emily MacKay.

“But, beer aside, what people tell us they like best about our Oktoberfest is that it so family-oriented,” MacKay told East Portland News. “The whole family is welcome: Everyone from grandma and grandpa to toddlers and teens, are all able to come, hear traditional oompah music and food, and enjoy the overall friendly, neighborly atmosphere that they find here,” she added.

Once again, the Fabulous Polkatones family band entertains with tunes of the season in the Main Festhalle.

The Tirolean Dancers entertain with high-stepping and swirling routines.

They haven’t added new events or attractions to their Oktoberfest celebration, MacKay said. “Here at Oaks Park, we have our traditions of bringing our old favorites back.

“What is new are the large number of guests who’ve come this year, saying either they’ve just moved into the area, or just heard about this,” MacKay pointed out. “It’s been really delightful to see a lot of new faces who are here to experience Oktoberfest with our returning friends.”

Some have a picnic in the “town square”, while others shop in the Craft & Import Village.

Enjoying Oktoberfest to the fullest, while sporting their finest Bavarian attire, are Trudy Schneider and William Schneider.

Attired in her tradition Bavarian dirndl dress, it was difficult to keep up with MacKay, who serves as hostess as well as main mistress of ceremonies for the three day festival.

Outside, just west of the Main Festhalle, MacKay cheered on the finals of the Wiener Dog Races – with the pooches scurrying along the course, benefitting Oregon Dachshund Rescue.

Jacob and his dog “Raider” – the grand prize winner in the Oktoberfest Wiener Dog Races – are congratulated by Emily MacKay.

It wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without a round of “The Chicken Dance”, says Mariena Gardner.

In the Family Festhalle, the band “European Take Out” entertains.

During the daylight hours, the Kinderplatz kids’ area hosted special activities and entertainers for little ones and their families. And, throughout the Oktoberfest, guests browsed the Craft & Import Village for souvenirs and gifts.

“People really do love the music, including the Fabulous Polkatones who are again our headliner band; it’s a big wonderful family show band, and it’s become part of our extended family here it Oaks Park every year,” MacKay said.

Another wacky Oktoberfest tradition is the “Condiment Art Contest”.

Everyone in the family, from tots to grandparents, dance together at this Oktoberfest.

A family atmosphere emanates from the Polkatones on stage, and out through the park, MacKay remarked, with all of the rides operating and midway in full swing. “The Oaks Amusement Park that they’ve loved all summer long now has an autumn makeover, making it special for many guests!”

The first Oktoberfest celebrated a royal wedding in Bavaria in 1810, but today it’s a pervasive worldwide tradition, and in Portland, it’s a big draw each year for the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States – our own Oaks Park.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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