Everything You Need to Know About Oktoberfest

Everything You Need to Know About Oktoberfest
Courtesy of Dickson Street Merchants Association

Courtesy of Dickson Street Merchants Association

For the first time, Fayetteville is doing an Oktoberfest this weekend and they’re doing it big.

Three “biergartens” (which is German for beer gardens, y’know) featuring 11 local and state-wide breweries will set up shop along Dickson Street, and each will house a live local music stage with genres ranging from jazz, DJ sets, reggae and folk. To do this, Dickson Street will be blocked off from Church Avenue to West Avenue, Sunday, Oct. 11. Each garden will feature three to four different breweries, so keep a lookout for which brews you want to get in on.

Fear not, if you’re looking for a family-friendly environment, there will be just about as many activities for kids and families as there are for those looking to guzzle down steins of craft beer.

In the parking lot that houses Hammontrees, Smoke & Barrel, and Uno, there will be a non-alcoholic Root Bier Garden hosted by Apple Blossom Brewing Company. Craft root beer will be served from a Hogshead tour van. The event stage will feature polka dance lessons following a polka performance by Das Polka among other performers. Kids will also get the chance to create and decorate their own root beer mugs with Art Feeds.

The University of Arkansas German department will also be hosting crafts at Nightbird Books and doing readings of Little Red Riding Hood in both English and German.

Attending the festival is free and open to the public, but to enter a beer garden will cost $5, and only 21 and older are allowed. All access passes to each garden cost $13, and if you want to add in a souvenir 14 oz stein (otherwise your beers will be 12 oz) it’s $20. If you show up in liederhosen or traditional German garb, you get the full package for $15. All beers will be $5 each. Passes will be for sale the day of the festival outside each beer garden.

This year’s festival proceeds will go to benefit the Arkansas Brewer’s Guild.

“The Dickson Street Merchants Association has been very supportive and generous,” said Evan McDonald, secretary treasurer of the Arkansas Brewer’s Guild. “When I went to them with the idea, y’know, a college town without an Oktoberfest is embarrassing. We pride ourselves in loving this town and loving the community and this is a no-brainer.”

In addition to all the beer varieties offered at the festival, there will be several food options from food vendors in addition to German-themed food options at Farrell’s, Grubs, San Lio (who are offering a whole new German menu by the 36 Club for the day) and a “You’re the Wurst” NWA chef bratwurst competition ($8 to sample, proceeds go to the New Design School). Don’t worry if you’re a vegan, Brian Abel of Hammontrees is cooking up completely vegan bratwursts. Little Bread Company is making homemade hot soft pretzels, too.

“Everybody is sort of putting their German hats on for this,” said Hannah Withers, co-owner of Maxine’s Tap Room and organizer for the event.

Courtesy of Dickson Street Merchants Association

Courtesy of Dickson Street Merchants Association

Black Apple Crossing, Arkansas’s first cidery in Springdale, will be debuting in Fayetteville at Sideways Bar behind Farrell’s next to Wasabi.

Tattoo artists from Ink and Glass will be out on Dickson doing sharpie tattoos for anyone looking to art up their skin.

If you’re looking for something a little more ridiculous or impressive — read with indifferent eyes no more. Kingfish will be hosting a Mr. Oktoberfest Pageant, hosted by the NWA Society of Bearded or Mustachioed Gentlemen. Categories include a swim suit segment, best beer bellies, and belching competition. Yep.

Every hour there will be a different event at the corner of Dickson and West, featuring pumpkin races, keg rolling and stein racing competitions, and will end with the Springdale Fire Department doing a strongman competition-like firetruck pull at 5 p.m.

While springtime in Fayetteville offers up both Block Street Block Party and Springfest — two awesome festivals in their own right — the fall lacked a locally-powered fun-fest (not counting Bikes, Blues & Barbecue). This established Oktoberfest is looking to be the next Fayetteville tradition. This year is thanks to the organizing efforts of the Dickson Street Merchants Association, Arkansas Brewers Guild, Hannah Withers, Heather Holloway and Hazel Hernandez.

“It’s exciting to see all the Dickson Street businesses come out and participate and highlight what they do,” Withers said.

The original Oktoberfest originated in Munich, Germany in the early 1800s as a wedding celebration between King Ludwig and Princess Therese. To this day, the festival lasts for 16 days each year, and beer is consumed in mass quantities under large tents.

Now Fayetteville can get in on the fun this year, and ideally, for years to come.

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