Oktoberfest began as the October 12th, 1810 wedding festivities of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The eventual King Ludwig I of Bavaria and his bride invited the citizens of Munich to celebrate their new union on the public fields in front of the gates of the city. Since that time, Oktoberfest has evolved into a huge,16 day celebration of German culture that is largely thought of as a beer-drinking, sausage-eating festival with music and attractions for all ages.
In lieu of being among one of the 6 million or so going to Oktoberfest in Munich from the last 2 weeks of September through the 1st Sunday of October, many around the world have held smaller versions of this widely popular fest thru the month of October. Some have even taken it to their own backyards and with some helpful suggestions, you too can turn almost any festive occasion into one with the happy German flare of Oktoberfest
A good place to start is by perusing images of Oktoberfest, both current and of the past. What stands out to you? The traditional clothing, beer tents, seating, food, music? There are various ways to tailor these elements for your party. Bavarian postcards or copies of make great invitations. For an outdoor gathering, consider renting a party tent or draping your existing pergola with fabric in hues reminiscent of the blue and white of the Bavarian flag. Backyard not an option? Drape the ceiling and walls of the designated space instead. Consider picnic tables or blankets on the ground (or floor) as seating options. Look to travel posters to adorn walls. If you'd like to dress for the occasion, rent, buy, borrow or make lederhosen or tavern wench wear. Your party music can come in the form of CDs, MP3s or if you can, a band.
When it comes to beverages, it's generally assumed beer is on tap (so to speak). If you are a home brewmeister then this can be a great way to present your beer for taste-testing. It might even be fun to print up your own labels and coasters with the help of your computer printer. What if while shopping you've seen several beers, ales or something of that ilk that you've wished to sample? Here's an excuse to buy them and or have folks bring some of their own brew choices along. There are also ways to include those who aren't beer connoisseurs (for any number of reasons). Try root or ginger beer, old-fashioned cream soda, or any thirst quencher that looks tasty in a stein or beer mug. If you don't have a bar, you can line up your various drinks on a clothed table festooned with flowers and ribbon.
This concept also works with a buffet table loaded with mouth-watering Bavarian dishes. There are large pretzels (savory or cinnamon sugar), grilled fish, roasted pork, sauerkraut, noodles & cheese, potato pancakes, dumplings and salad, sausage (wurst),German chocolate and Black Forest cake, apple butter, strudel and coffee cake, and black licorice from which to choose. If you're no chef, there are bound to be local eateries that provide takeout or catering. Potluck is another route, giving guests an opportunity to shine.
So for your next celebration, go Oktoberfest
with it and don't forget to announce “O'zapft is!” (“It's tapped!”) before the drinking begins.