In my last couple posts, I have advised you people as to how best enjoy Oktoberfest in the comfort of your own home: this week, against my better judgment, I suggest you leave the house, and actually socialize with your fellow man. After all, Oktoberfest, in its original incarnation, was about celebrating life with one's neighbors! Over these next few weeks, the DC area will be hosting a plethora of German-esque festivals hearkening the changing of the seasons. To my mind, these events fall into two distinct categories: kid friendly, carnival-style affairs (read: "Family Fun"), and beer-centric gorge-fests best left to the adults (read: "No, daddy is not sick! Now stop crying and keep your eyes on the road!"). Below is the full gamut of Teutonic tumults at your disposal: Choose wisely!
Fun for the Whole Family:
Barracks Row Oktoberfest
This six year old event has one thing going for it that I am certain no other festival can claim: The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders! In addition to gratuitous bouncing, the Barracks Row fest also features craft and food vendors, and all the benefits of the burgeoning local restaurant scene. Stick around and catch the Military Culinary Competition, which pits teams of chefs from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard in an Iron Chef-like competition of culinary skill!
September 27, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Barracks Row, 8th St. SE, Washington, DC
Fort Belvoir Oktoberfest
The 13th Annual Fort Belvoir Oktoberfest features four days and nights of live music, food and fun. Unique to this event is the ominously named (but perfectly safe!) "Volksmarch," a 10 K hike through the wooded trails that surround the fort. Swing by, drop the kids off at the "Kinder Korner," and enjoy the musical stylings of Elbe-Musikaten and the Philadelphia German Brass Band.
October 2 - 5
Off of Rt. 1 in Fairfax, Virginia
Though the food sounds a bit underwhelming on their website ("Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Pretzels," etc.), this is purported to be one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations in the area. Among those events on the docket are a yodeling contest, a strong man competition, and a polka-off! The modest $5 entrance fee goes to a charity for disabled persons; the fee is waved if you wear a Dirndl or Lederhosen!
September 27 - 28. Saturday: Noon - 10 p.m. Sunday: Noon - 6 p.m.
Frederick Fairgrounds, East Patrick St., Frederick, Maryland
Admission: $5, Children ages 11 and under are free.
The Germantown Oktoberfest is widely considered to be Montgomery County's premier Oktoberfest celebration (go figure), and is this year marking its 26th anniversary. This festival has all the usual attractions such as traditional dancers and fireworks, and tends to attract some of the best German food vendors in the area. This is another great one to bring the kids to, but as the Biergarten pours only Sam Adams Octoberfest and Miller Lite, don't go expecting great beer.
October 4, 11 a.m. to Dark
Ridge Road Park, Germantown, Maryland
Oktoberfest at Fort Meade
You Marylanders with children should be sure to check this one out. The quintessential carnival-with-a -German-theme, the Fort Meade Oktoberfest offers 24 rides, midway games, traditional food and drink, folk dancing, cooking demonstrations, and a Munich style keg tapping ceremony. Tickets are free, but the food and drink will cost ya.
September 17 - 21
Fort Meade Pavilion, Llewellyn Ave. Fort Meade, Maryland
Blocktoberfest at RFK Stadium
... will not be happening this year. According to their website, due to the "tremendous work involved," this ever-popular DC area event is now on a bi-yearly schedule. Rest assured, though: apparently next year's is supposed to totally "rock."
RFK Stadium, Washington, DC
Admission: To be determined.
Das Best Oktoberfest at National Harbor
Though this one does admit children, it sounds like a bit of a bacchanal. $30 at the door buys you admission to this festival featuring 75 beers, several dozen examples of German schnapps and wine, and, apparently, the St. Pauli Girls (Yeah, I didn't know there was more than one, either). The waterside venue has two stages, which will host a range of acts from Oom-pah and rock bands, to polka dancing, to biggest beer belly competitions. This event is rain or shine, with all the vendors covered with ample tent-age, making it the ideal pick if the weather's looking dodgy and you don't mind a wicked hangover.
September 27, Noon to 8 p.m.
137 National Plaza, National Harbor, Maryland
Admission: $20 in advance, $30 at the door; Children ages 12 and under are free. Admission gets you 10 sample tokens, and additional tokens cost $1 apiece.
Oktoberfest at Capitol City Brewing Company
This 9th incarnation of Cap City's suburban celebration now features a children's area in front of the library — now parents can drop the kiddies off and indulge with a clear conscience, babysitter or no. About 30 breweries are signed up for this year's fracas, each doling out two or more beers in four-ounce samples, all you can drink. In addition to the booze, you can look forward to seven hours of traditional German music and the usual array of brat and pretzel vendors. Though I have never been myself, I have it from semi-reputable sources (i.e., my friends) that this event is a lot of fun, but you should expect long lines, and a lot drunken antics.
October 4, Noon to 7 p.m.
Shirlington Village, Arlington, Virginia
Admission: $25 for unlimited samples; Free w/o samples.
Oktobeerfest at Rustico
This year, Alexandria's premier beer spot is getting into Oktoberfest with their cleverly named Oktobeerfest (har!). Held in the restaurant's parking lot, Oktoberfest will feature about 20 draft beers, live music, and a wide range of foods from other Neighborhood Restaurant Group enterprises such as Evening Star, Vermillion, and Tallula. The beer list looks pretty nifty, and the NRG is known for producing some fine snack foods — though this one may be low on the German culture, it looks like a winner for the food and beer lover, at least on paper.
September 27, starting at Noon
Rustico Restaurant — 827 Slaters Lane, Alexandria, Virginia
Admission: Free! Food and beer tickets available — All tickets are $1 each and can be redeemed for food, drink or raffle tickets. Most food and drink items will be between 3 and 8 tickets.
Virginia Wine Festival
Okay, so its not really an Oktoberfest, but the timing is spot on, and the spirit is similar. This year celebrates the 33rd anniversary of the Virginia Wine Festival (making it the east coast's oldest such event), which now features more wines than ever before. Among those 54 wineries pouring are some of my personal favorites, including Barboursville, Blenheim, Breaux, Chrysalis, and dozens of others. Included in the price of admission is free access to numerous seminars and free concerts. If your tastes lend themselves more to the grape than the hops, check this one out an experience the best of the best of Virginia wine.
September 27 - 28, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Prince William County Fairgrounds — 10624 Dumfries Road, Manassas, Virginia
Admission: $20 online, $25 at the gate —includes unlimited tasting and full seminar access. $15 designated driver ticket includes free non-alcoholic beverages and full seminar access.