Oktoberfest guide: Where to go, how to dress, what to eat to make the most of the celebration | VailDaily.com

Oktoberfest guide: Where to go, how to dress, what to eat to make the most of the celebration

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily
Courtesy of Beaver Creek Resort
Thomas H .Green | Courtesy of Beaver Creek Resort |

Beaver Creek Oktoberfest schedule

Admission is free, and food and beverages are available for purchase. For more information, visit www.beavercreek.com.

Saturday, Sept. 5

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Beer garden and restaurant vendors open

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. —Trachtenkapelle of Lech-Zurs, Austria

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Kids’ Fun Zone open at Centennial Park

Noon to 1 p.m. — Bavarian Culinary Demonstration, Culinary Experience Tent

12:30-1:30 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

1:30-2:30 p.m. — Bavarian Culinary Demonstration, Culinary Experience Tent

1:45-2:45 p.m. —Trachtenkapelle of Lech-Zurs, Austria

3-4 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

3-4 p.m. — Bavarian Culinary Demonstration, Culinary Experience Tent

4 p.m. — Bavarian costume contest

4:30-6 p.m. —Journey Unauthorized

Sunday, Sept. 6

10 a.m. — Oktoberfest Shuffle 5K, 10K and Family Fun 1K

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Beer garden and restaurant vendors open

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. —Trachtenkapelle of Lech-Zurs, Austria

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Kids’ Fun Zone open at Centennial Park

Noon to 1 p.m. — Bavarian Culinary Demonstration, Culinary Experience Tent

12:30-1:30 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

1:30-2:30 p.m. — Bavarian Culinary Demonstration, Culinary Experience Tent

1:45-2:45 p.m. —Trachtenkapelle of Lech-Zurs, Austria

3-4 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

3-4 p.m. — Bavarian Culinary Demonstration, Culinary Experience Tent

4 p.m. — Kids’ European Alpenhorn Contest at Centennial Park

4:30-6 p.m. —Bruce in the USA, a tribute to Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

Vail Oktoberfest schedule

Admission is free, and food and beverages are available for purchase. For more information, visit www.vailoktoberfest.com.

Lionshead Mall and Vail Square

Friday, Sept. 11

Noon to 2 p.m. — Walter’s Austrian Swiss Connection

2-4 p.m. — Polka Chops Band

4-6 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

6 p.m. — Oktoberfest Opening Ceremony

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

7 p.m. — Stein-lifting competition

7:30-9:30 p.m. — The Laughing Bones

10 p.m. — Oktoberfest closes for the day

Saturday, Sept. 12

Noon to 2 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

Noon to 5 p.m. — Kids’ area with entertainers open

1-2 p.m. — Bavarian Dancers

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

2:30-4 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

2:30-4 p.m. — Bavarian Dancers

3:30 p.m. — Bavarian costume contest

4-5 p.m. — Adult keg-bowling contest

5-7 p.m. — Walters Austrian Swiss Connection

7 p.m. — Stein-lifting competition

7:30-9:30 p.m. — The Altitones

10 p.m. — Oktoberfest closes for the day

Sunday, Sept. 13

Noon to 2 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

Noon to 5 p.m. — Kids’ area with entertainers open

1-2 p.m. — Volkstangzgruppe Dancers

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

2:30-3 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

2:30-4 p.m. — Volkstangzgruppe Dancers

3-4 p.m. — Walter’s Austrian Swiss Connection

4-5 p.m. — Adult keg-bowling contest

5-6 p.m. — Walters Austrian Swiss Connection

5:30 p.m. — Stein-lifting competition

6 p.m. — Oktoberfest closes for the day

Vail Village

Friday, Sept. 18

Noon to 2 p.m. — Walter’s Austrian Swiss Connection

2-4 p.m. — Polka Chops Band

4-6 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

6 p.m. — Oktoberfest Opening Ceremony

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

7 p.m. — Stein-lifting competition

7:30-9:30 p.m. — Harmonious Junk

10 p.m. — Oktoberfest closes for the day

Saturday, Sept. 19

Noon to 2 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

Noon to 5 p.m. — Kids’ area with entertainers open

1-2 p.m. — T.E.V. Edelweiss Schuplattlers

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

2:30-4 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

2:30-4 p.m. — T.E.V. Edelweiss Schuplattlers

3:30 p.m. — Bavarian costume contest

4-5 p.m. — Adult keg-bowling contest

5-7 p.m. — Polka Chops Band

7 p.m. — Stein-lifting competition

7:30-9:30 p.m. — Schwing Daddy

10 p.m. — Oktoberfest closes for the day

Sunday, Sept. 20

Noon to 2 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

Noon to 5 p.m. — Kids’ area with entertainers open

1-2 p.m. — T.E.V. Edelweiss Schuplattlers

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

2:30-3 p.m. — Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders

2:30-4 p.m. — T.E.V. Edelweiss Schuplattlers

3-4 p.m. — Walter’s Austrian Swiss Connection

4-5 p.m. — Adult keg-bowling contest

5-6 p.m. — Walter’s Austrian Swiss Connection

5:30 p.m. — Stein-lifting competition

6 p.m. — Oktoberfest closes for 2015

What started as a wedding celebration for King Ludwig in the early 1800s in Bavaria has now become one of the most beloved events in the mountains of the Vail Valley. Oktoberfest, which has been adopted by communities across the country, has a special connection to the Vail area; many German and Austrians now call this place home.

Oktoberfest is celebrated for three weekends in a row, starting in Beaver Creek today and Sunday. Vail celebrates in Lionshead next weekend from Friday through Sunday, Sept. 13, and in the Vail Village the following weekend from Friday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 20. While Oktoberfest is a celebration that can — and should — be enjoyed by everyone, here’s the inside scoop on Oktoberfest from some of the valley’s experts.

Dress the part

Wander around any Oktoberfest celebration, and you’re sure to see attendees decked out in traditional Bavarian outfits: lederhosen (leather shorts and suspenders) for guys and dirndls (brightly colored dresses with white shirts and aprons) for the ladies. While these outfits are usually worn for weddings in Bavaria, they’re de rigueur for many guests who want to show some spirit at Oktoberfest.

“You don’t have to be German (to wear the outfits); anyone can do it,” said Stefan Schmid, general manager at the Sonennalp Hotel, who is from Hidelang, Germany. “It’s highly respected and accepted, and it’s fun; it shows you’re being part of the culture.”

There are some tips for how to wear certain elements of the outfit, though. For the ladies, it’s said that the bow on your apron can indicate your relationship status: If it’s tied on the left, then you’re single; if it’s tied on the right, then you’re taken.

Schmid said that he didn’t know about that, but that the bow definitely needed to be tied in front.

“It’s very important that when you do the bow on the aprons, you bow it in front and not in the back,” Schmid said. “When you tie it in front, it looks like proper Bavarian style.”

In the end, though, it’s all about having fun.

“You can wear whatever because it’s fun and it’s a celebration,” Schmid said. “It’s not a fashion show. It just shows that you want to be part of the culture.”

Both Beaver Creek and Vail will be hosting Bavarian costume competitions during the celebrations.

Dance to the music

No Oktoberfest party is complete without music. From traditional German tunes to the call of the alphorn, the events are centered on music and showcase several bands and performers. Perhaps the most well-known of these is Helmut Fricker, a German-born Beaver Creek resident who has been entertaining crowds here for 35 years.

Fricker, who has performed in all 50 states, actually started the first Oktoberfest in Larimer Square in Denver in 1969, when he moved to Colorado from Germany. Since moving to the Vail Valley area in 1972, he’s become an icon, performing solo and with his band. Known for his yodeling and performances on the alphorn, Fricker is an expert when it comes to Oktoberfest music.

“You’re singing and drinking and dancing; it’s happy music,” Fricker said. “The nice thing is that everyone gets involved, everyone gets on the dance floor, everyone locks arms and swings along and are holding up their steins and having a good time.”

Guests will be able to dance to traditional music by groups such as Trachtenkapelle from Lech-Zurs, Austria, at Beaver Creek and Walter’s Austrian Swiss Connection in Vail. Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders will be performing during all three Oktoberfest weekends. There will also be professional Bavarian dancers during the Vail weekends to provide instruction and inspiration.

If you’re interested in trying your hand on the alphorn, the long, wooden instrument that was used as a form of communication in the mountains, then Fricker has some tips for that, too.

“If someone has an idea of how to play a trumpet, you put your lips tight together and squeeze the air,” Fricker said. “The tighter you press your lips together, the higher the note comes out. Like pip pip pip pip.”

Kids will be able to test their skills at Beaver Creek during the Kids European Alpenhorn Contest on Sunday. Judged by a panel of experts from Lech, Austria, competitors are divided into three age categories (8 years old or younger; 9 to 12 years; and 13 to 16 years) and are judged on the tone, strength and length that they play.

taste of Bavaria

All of that dancing, singing and alphorn playing can work up an appetite. A tasty focus of Oktoberfest is on the food, which includes traditional fare such as bratwurst, schnitzel sandwiches, spaetzle and the ubiquitous large pretzels.

In Beaver Creek, the culinary demonstration series will introduce guests to chef Werner from Lecher Stube in the resort village of Lech, Austria. During one of the culinary demonstrations that take place over the weekend, he’ll show guests how to cook grostl, an Austrian meat and potato hash, said Jen Brown, managing director of the Beaver Creek Resort Co.

There are plenty of opportunities to sample traditional Bavarian fare throughout the weekend, so take a seat at one of the community tables and make some new friends.

Feeling particularly hungry? Satiate your hunger and take home a prize if you can shove more sausage down your gullet faster than anyone else during a three-minute period. The Klement’s Bratwurst Eating Contest takes place four different times during Vail’s Oktoberfest celebrations; there is no cost to participate in the contests, and the winner gets a prize package and bragging rights, in addition to an incredibly full stomach.

Then there’s the beer. In Munich, there are only six local breweries that are allowed to pour. In the Vail Valley, the selection is more diverse, but no less tasty. Vail will be pouring the traditional Hacker-Pschorr from Bavaria, while the beers at Beaver Creek’s celebration include suds such as O’Dell Oktoberfest and Goose Island IPA. If just drinking the beer isn’t entertaining enough for you, then there are two opportunities to demonstrate strength and prowess: keg bowling and stein lifting, both taking place during Vail’s celebrations.

Community celebration

In the end, Oktoberfest is more than just the clothes that you wear, the food that you eat or the music to which you swing your stein. It’s a celebration of community and friends, both for those who are visiting and those who call the Vail Valley their home.

“I think it’s sharing a table, those community tables, and meeting people,” Schmid said. “It’s so bonding and fun. You’re all a stranger at the table, but then you leave and you party and you have the best time of your life. A construction worker or doctor could be next to you and no one cares who you are. People of all ages and stages of life are there, so that’s the most wonderful thing. From kids to elderly people, everybody dances and has fun.”

Fricker agreed.

“Every person is smiling,” he said. “That’s the nice thing about Oktoberfest. Everyone has a happy face.”