Vail Valley Oktoberfests continue this weekend in Lionshead Village | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Oktoberfests continue this weekend in Lionshead Village

Vail's Oktoberfest celebrations span two weekends, first in Lionshead Village from Sept. 6-8, and then next weekend in Vail Village from Sept. 13-15.
Special to the Daily

Given Vail’s connection to ski towns in Germany and Austria, it only makes sense that Oktoberfest is one of the biggest celebrations in the area each year. Vail Valley Oktoberfests draw visitors from around the country each year, and those numbers have increased, mostly in the past 18 years. The Bavarian festivities started up again on Friday in Lionshead Village, and continue through Saturday and Sunday.

James Deighan, who has worked with Highline event planning since it took over Vail Oktoberfest 18 years ago, said planning starts each year as soon as the event ends. 

Orders for kegs of German Spaten must be ordered six months in advance. Deighan’s been to Munich Oktoberfest five times and brought over Bavarian traditions to make the Vail experience more authentic. In addition to bringing over keg bowling, stein-holding and bratwurst eating contests, the Vail Oktoberfest also imports both glass and pewter steins, which sell out each year.

“The waitresses carry eight to 10 steins in each hand,” he said. “When we started producing this, we wanted to make certain that we were replicating the look of and feel of the steins over there.”

Creating that traditional feel is a top priority for Deighan and the rest of the organizers. While the festival pivots to contemporary and popular entertainment in the evenings, the traditional Bavarian attractions during the day bring joy to visiting families and valley locals alike.

“When we took over this event 18 years ago, it was a quiet event,” he said. “We put a whole lot of German and Bavarian spunk into it and made it what it is today.”

Oktoberfest History

In October 1810, King Ludwig I of Bavaria married Princess Teresa of Sassonia-Hildburghausen. Citizens of Munich were invited to a feast and horse race to celebrate the union, and the event was so successful that the monarchy decided to hold the event the next year, giving rise to Oktoberfest traditions as we know them today. Though the event has been canceled several times, mainly due to war, Oktoberfest remains an enduring staple of German culture and celebrated its 209th anniversary this year.

Animation by Casey Russell

Oktoberfest Beer

Germany has a long history of producing beer. The Reinheitsgebot edict became the first food purity law in 1516 when it dictated the only viable ingredients for producing beer: water, barley and hops. It was assumed that yeast was necessary to create alcohol and carbonation. Part of the reason the Reinheitsgebot was so important was because it was safer to drink beer than the dirty water in medieval and early modern Europe. The general sentiment of the Reinheitsgebot exists today as the Biergesetz.

Similarly, to be considered a true Oktoberfest beer, it must meet a similar set of conditions: 

  • The beer must be brewed within the Munich city limits.
  • It must comply with the Reinheitsgebot.
  • It must be a traditional Marzen lager.

Only six breweries meet this criteria and pour at the Munich Oktoberfest:

  • Augustiner, established 1328
  • Spaten, established 1397
  • Hacker-Pschorr, established 1417
  • Hofbrau, established 1589
  • Paulaner, established 1634
  • Lowenbrau, established 1690
Oktoberfest glassware is a common sight around the events. Many like to bring steins from previous years.
Casey Russell | crussell@vaildaily.com

Oktoberfest in Lionshead Square

Here’s the full schedule of events for the Lionshead Village Oktoberfest:

Friday, Sept. 6

Noon Oktoberfest opens

Noon-4 p.m. Live music from the Average German Band

4-6 p.m. Live music from Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders Band

6 p.m. Oktoberfest Opening Ceremony

6:15-7 p.m. Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders Band

7 p.m. Stein Lifting Competition

7:30-9:30 p.m. Live music from Dixie Leadfoot and The Chrome Struts 

10 p.m. Oktoberfest closes

Saturday, Sept. 7

Noon Oktoberfest opens

Noon-3 p.m. Live music from the Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

Noon-5 p.m. Bavarian Kinder Club open

1-3 p.m. Denver Kickers Schuhplattlers

2 p.m. Bavarian Costume Contest

3-3:30 p.m. Klement’s Bratwurst Eating Contest

3:30-4 p.m. Denver Kickers Schuhplattlers

4-5 p.m. Adult Keg Bowling Contest

5-7 p.m. Live music from the Average German Band

7 p.m. Stein Lifting Competition

7:30-9:30 p.m. Live music from Rewind

10 p.m. Oktoberfest closes

Sunday, Sept. 8

Noon Oktoberfest opens

Noon-3 p.m. Live music from the Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

Noon-5 p.m. Bavarian Kinder Club open

1-5 p.m. Denver Kickers Schuhplattlers

2:30-3 p.m. Klement’s Bratwurst Eating Contest

3-4 p.m. Denver Kickers Schuhplattlers

4-5 p.m. Adult Keg Bowling Contest

5-6 p.m. Live music from the Average German Band

5:30 p.m. Stein Lifting Competition

6 p.m. Oktoberfest closes