With carnival rides, wiener dog races and nonstop live music, there’s plenty to see and do at Tempe’s annual Oktoberfest celebration. But it’s the beer — specifically, the authentic German beer — that could be the main draw.
“The biggest pushback we’ve had over the years is (people asking), ‘Where’s the German beers?’ We’ve never had more than a couple, but new for this year, we have 22,” says Larry West, coordinator of Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake.
The three-day festival kicks off 5 p.m. Friday. It’s produced by Tempe Sister City Corporation.
Five German breweries will supply beer, including Weltenburger Kloster of Regensburg, Germany, a Tempe sister city since 1976.
“Two of the breweries are the oldest in the world,” says West. “The one in Regensburg is the oldest continuously operated abbey brewery, from around 1050. The Weihenstephan is out of Munich, and they go back to about 1040.”
German beers will be available throughout the festival, but West says they’ll hold tastings noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visitors will get eight 4-ounce samples for $20.
A full slate of domestic and craft brews will be on tap, as are bratwurst and sauerkraut and food vendors selling fare from pulled pork and nachos to wok-fried noodles and pizza. Barefoot Wine & Bubbly will host a wine garden.
Oktoberfest features a “kinderfest” and carnival zone for children, ’round-the-clock polkas and music from local bands such as Black Carl, Dry River Yacht Club, Mogollon and The Sugar Theives. Thirty-two purebred dachshunds will run in 11 races 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The 20th annual Frank Kush Family Fun Footrace is scheduled for Saturday morning.
Held each October each year since 1973, Oktoberfest is a fundraiser for Tempe Sister City Corporation.
“We send 32 students, the summer between their junior and senior years, to eight of our sister cities around the world, and they’ll bring the kid in the family they stay with back to Tempe for five weeks. For many of those kids, it’s a life-changing experience at that age in their life. Many of them remain lifelong friends, and many of their families become friends and start traveling back and forth,” says West.
Oktoberfest opens at 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Tempe Beach Park, Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway. Admission is free. Food, drink and activity tickets are $1 each or $20 for 25 tickets. For information, call (480) 838-2362 or visit www.tempeoktoberfest.com
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