Oktoberfest fills “The Oaks” with lively Germanic-themed celebration

Although this East Portland event is known for its ‘beer, brats, and bands’ – see why so many kids also come to this big, local Oktoberfest celebration …

Erich Hacker and Sarah Curls of the “Tyrolean Dancers” demonstrate the Zillertaler.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For an authentic Bavarian fall celebration experience, some folks travel far and wide in late September. But for many, closer is better – and you don’t have to travel far to find it.

Some 25,000 revelers flocked to East Portland’s nonprofit and historic Oaks Amusement Park, September 21st through 23rd, to enjoy the 2012 edition of “Oktoberfest”.

Guests enjoy playing the “Pretzel Toss” game in the main “festhalle”.

Perennial “Fräulein host” Emily MacKay keeps the party going, all weekend long, at the 2012 Oaks Amusement Park Oktoberfest.

One of the guests seated in the main “festhalle” – a giant tented pavilion – asked the event’s perennial “Fräulein host” Emily MacKay, “What year is this, at Oaks Park?”

“What year?” the dirndlgewand-attired MacKay winked and quipped back, “Its 2012! Maybe it’s time to ease off of the beer!”

With that, everyone at the table broke out in laughter, and someone called out a toast, taken from the German drinking song/chant “Ein Prosit”: “Ziggy zaggy, ziggy zaggy!” to which the others replied with glasses raised, “Hoy, hoy, hoy!”

“Actually it’s our 22nd annual event,” MacKay proudly said.

The lively music played by the Polkatones keeps folks up and dancing throughout the evening.

At the start of the “Condiment Art” contest, Emily MacKay explains that folks are to “paint” a dirndl costume – like the one she’s wearing – on the paper … and admonishing eager participants to not “paint” on her!

“What makes our Oktoberfest different from most others,” the hostess explained, “is that Oaks Park is all about families. We have family events all day long. And, kids can go anywhere in the venue with their parents, all the way until midnight.”

It’s become an endearing way to welcome in the fall season, MacKay remarked, because of the “Three Bs – beers, brats, and bands. People from all over the greater Portland region know they can have a fun, family-oriented, authentic Oktoberfest experience.”

More than 100 revelers get in line, following the lead of the Polkatones baritone musician, during the “Train Dance”.

Everyone gets up to do the “Chicken Dance”.

The Oaks Amusement Park’s staff clearly enjoys hosting one of Portland’s best weekend-long parties – which also contributes to the festive atmosphere.

Whether taking in the “wiener dog races”, watching cooking demonstrations, or browsing among the vendors in the “Village Square” – or simply taking one last turn on the park’s thrill rides for the season – the Oaks’ Oktoberfest has clearly become a Portland family tradition.

Trying to win the “Empty Beer Cup Stacking Contest” is Kristi Williams from NE Portland.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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