Berthoud Oktoberfest Offers Family-friendly Take on German Tradition

October 3, 2018

Owen Brekenfeld tries to best his fellow competitors in the pretzel-eating completion at Berthoud's Oktoberfest celebration in 2015. This weekend's Oktoberfest will feature two pretzel-eating contests for elementary school kids.

If you go

What: Berthoud Oktoberfest

When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday

11 a.m., The Dick Zavodny Band

2 p.m., John Stehle Jr.’s Rocky Mountain Dutch Boys

2:30 p.m., Kindergarten-third grade pretzel eating contest

3 p.m., Fourth and fifth grade pretzel eating contest

4 p.m., Dirndl and lederhosen contest

4:30 p.m., Bavarian Strength Contest

Where: Fickel Park, 620 Mountain Ave. in Berthoud.

Cost: Admission free; food and drink vary.

Looking for something to do this weekend? How about raising a mug of beer ... and holding it straight out in front of you for as long as you can?

Though that may sound like a weird pastime, it’s just part of the fun at Berthoud’s Oktoberfest, where contestants will again compete to see who can hold up a 25-ounce stein of beer the longest during the Bavarian Strength Contest.

“It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Berthoud Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Deanne Mulvihill said of the contest, which made its debut at last year’s Oktoberfest. “I thought it would take a long time, but within three minutes the contest was over.”

Not that any of the participants or observers seemed to mind. The inevitable quick end to the contest just means there is that much more time to enjoy the German brats, polka and Festlichkeit (German for “revelry”) that are always in bountiful supply at the annual event.

Berthoud’s Oktoberfest, now in its eighth year, honors the history of German settlement in Berthoud, and Mulvihill said the celebration has to be an authentic one — to a point.

“We call it traditional because if it were truly authentic like it is in Munich there would be much beer and it would be much more rowdy,” she said. “But we have German bands that play all day and we built our own dance floor next to the stage so that people can polka.”

The Dick Zavodny Band, a polka band from Estes Park, will make its return to the festival stage at 11 a.m. while John Stehle Jr.’s Rocky Mountain Dutch Boys will perform at 2 p.m.

Another fixture of the celebration are the kids pretzel-eating contests, which will again match younger festival attendees in a competition to see who can be the first to eat a whole soft pretzel tied to a string while keeping their hands behind their back.

The first contest, which will be for kids in kindergarten to third grade, will take place at 2:30 p.m. while a second contest for fourth- and fifth-graders will follow at 3 p.m. Kids can register for the contests during the event at the Chamber of Commerce booth.

Feeling extra festive? Come to Oktoberfest decked out in a dirndl (a traditional dress worn in Bavaria) or lederhosen (German leather breeches) and compete in the dirndl and lederhosen contest on the dance floor at 4 p.m.

Of course, even a family-friendly Oktoberfest wouldn’t be quite right without a little beer, and Denver’s Prost Brewing, which specializes in crafting German lagers, will join hometown favorites Berthoud Brewing and City Star Brewing in keeping steins full at the event. The latter will again be pouring up its Oktoberfest fest beer made especially for the event.

“It’s very crisp and very refreshing and just a real popular beer for us every year,” a brewer at City Star said of the beer.

But in keeping with the event’s pledge to offer something for everyone, the event will also feature a kids area with several free bounce houses.

We just want everybody to come and enjoy it and have a great time,” Mulvihill said.

Paul Albani-Burgio: 970-699-5407, palbani-burgio@reporter-herald.com

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