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September's Oktoberfest returns

Bend and Germany have a lot in common; we both like beer, skiing, and are composed mostly of white people. We also both love celebrating Oktoberfest, even when it's in September. In Germany, Oktoberfest is an annual celebration of traditional Bavarian food, music, and culture that lasts 16 full days, beginning in September and stretching well into its namesake month.

In Bend, Oktoberfest is a fun, family-friendly event that brings Bend dwellers of all backgrounds together on the third Friday and Saturday of September. Come share and enjoy food, live entertainment, and special events inspired by the culture that brought us hot dogs, yodeling, and Christmas trees. This fall event has a little something for everyone, and even some things that no one would ever expect was for them, like the adorably-chaotic wiener dog races, or the ridiculously-badass Hammerschlagen competition, which according to Rod Porsche, the executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association, is "a crowd favorite where contestants race to hammer a nail for prizes" (more entertaining than words can convey). The competition, manned by Natural Edge Furniture is a staple of the event.

Patrick Brown, the head of marketing and sales for Natural Edge, says, "As a small, local furniture maker, it is great to have the opportunity to connect with the past and future clients in a festive (and sometimes violent) atmosphere." Sounds like my kind of weekend!

In addition to these exotic events, the organizers of Oktoberfest promise a wide array of attractions including bouncy houses for the kids, Bend (and German) brews for the adults, and yodeling and swordplay for people who like to keep their small town a little trippy. Wait, swordplay? In addition to the live musical entertainment and other stage events, the Knights of Veritas, a Pacific Northwest educational group, will present a 45-minute demonstration of traditional swordplay from German speaking cultures in the Middle Ages. Afterward, they will present a hands-on dagger fighting class with interactive elements for all ages.

If more gentle and melodious entertainment is more your speed, musical guest The Mirko Pressler Band "sets the mood of the event with its popular Oompah music over both days," says Porsche.

Although fun and games are, well, fun, many of us celebrate Oktoberfest as an excuse to enjoy the rich and savory food and beverage traditions of Germany and kick our holiday eating season off with a bang, or rather with a truly satisfied sigh. Many Bend eatery favorites will make appearances at this two-day festival, offering their unique takes on German cuisine staples as well as local favorites.

Keith from Dump City Dumplings is particularly excited to share their German-inspired menu with festivalgoers who may or may not already be familiar with this popular downtown food cart. "We'll be offering a dump-sized version of Bavarian Leberkase as well as a cheddar pierogi for Oktoberfest this year. Leberkase is basically German for awesome meat sandwich and contains beef, pork, and bacon, while the cheddar pierogi is all about onions, potatoes, and cheese. We'll have the four-cheese pizza alongside the Oktoberfest inspired offerings."

The Wine Shop is running the official wine booth at the Oktoberfest for its fifth year! Owner Melanie Betti explains some of her wares: "We only pour authentic German and Austrian wine. This year we are pouring an Austrian Zweigelt (red), an Austrian rosé of Zweigelt (dry rosé), an Austrian Grüner Veltliner (dry white), a German Riesling (kabinett style), and a German Gewürtztraminer! The Wine Shop and Beer Tasting Bar has been in business for nine years now. We are a locally-run, family business. We believe in stocking and pouring the best quality wines from across the globe. Over 600 bottles to choose from to go and 30 wines by the glass!"

The Bend Oktoberfest is free and open to all ages. Even better, funds raised by this event go directly toward the upkeep of beautiful downtown Bend, so just by showing up you can support your own hometown culture while indulging in a little international flavor.

Bend Oktoberfest

Friday, September 18, 5pm-10pm

Saturday, September 19, noon-10pm

Oregon Avenue in Downtown Bend

Free Admission

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