Oaks Park creates ‘Drive-thru’ Oktoberfest for pandemic year

Without a ‘Chicken Dance’, it wasn’t like the past celebration that brought so many outer East Portland folks out for a Germanic Oktoberfest, but it was a delicious reminder …

Checking in a family who ordered an Oaks Amusement Park “Oktoberfest-to-go” package is marketing and events manager, Emily MacKay.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Famous across the Pacific Northwest, and a tradition since 1990, the Oaks Park Oktoberfest became yet another COVID-19 coronavirus casualty in 2020.

“Indeed, we’re sad that the COVID-19 pandemic has kept Oaks Amusement Park closed all season,” acknowledged Oaks Park Association Marketing and Events Director – and the ever ebullient hostess of the Oktoberfest celebrations – Emily MacKay.

In the kitchen, the cheerful hostess of Oaks Park Oktoberfests, Emily MacKay, checks the online order tickets.

“When we learned we couldn’t be dancing to the beat of the Polkatones in the Festhalle, or raise our glasses in a ‘prost’ to the season, we knew we still had to do something to celebrate the season,” MacKay told East Portland News.

So, for one weekend only, October 10 and 11, nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park offered a drive-through pick-up event they called “Oktoberfest-to-go”, featuring their Portland-crafted German favorites, Edelweiss Sausage & Deli knockwurst from the Brooklyn neighborhood, and a growler-filling station for Lents-based Zoiglhaus Brewing Company beer.

The Oktoberfest-to-go “Sausage Grilling King”, Oaks Amusement Park Association CEO Brandon Roben, cooks up another batch of freshly-made Edelweiss knockwurst.

Supporters – about 150 families – participated; each carload received a full meal consisting of four giant sausages and buns, German potato salad, sauerkraut, and apple strudel for dessert. For larger families, it was possible to pre-order larger quantities.

“With the loss of our entire 2020 season, this event goes a long way to help keep things afloat until we’re able to reopen,” remarked MacKay after the event. “We exceeded our goal for the number of orders, and the community expression of support and hope for our future was a big pick-me-up in these very difficult times.

Susie MacKay prepares another “Oktoberfest-to-go” dinner package.

“People told us how much they’d missed Oaks Park, and especially the annual Oktoberfest celebration; and\ they told us that they would be back to ‘play with us’ again, as soon as we can open,” MacKay concluded.

The dates announced for next year’s hoped-for return to a live, on-site Oktoberfest at Oaks Park are September 24-26, 2021.

To keep up to date with Oaks Amusement Park – including the possible reopening of their famous Oaks Park Roller Rink – see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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