Oaktoberfest returns to Avila Beach

The seventh annual Oaktoberfest is returning to Avila Beach Golf Resort to help raise money for Hospice of San Luis Obipso on Saturday, Oct. 15.

Oaktoberfest, sponsored by Firestone Walker Brewery, aims to mimic Germany’s Oktoberfest, an internationally known festival that consists of beer gardens, German cuisine and other events. Oktoberfest — held since 1810 — originally started as a celebration for a king’s wedding, but the popularity grew and it became an annual festival. Munich hosts the biggest Oktoberfest every year from mid-September to the first weekend in October.

Oaktoberfest might not last as long as Germany’s Oktoberfest, but it is a similar party full of live music, German food, beer and various events.

Last year, more than 3,000 people arrived in Avila Beach dressed in lederhosen, carrying steins and ready to party throughout the day.  The event both embraced German culture and helped raise money for Hospice of San Luis Obispo.

“The event will be much larger than in years past, more spread out and some new beers will be offered,” said Jamie Smith, Firestone Walker Brewery’s marketing manager. “Additionally, we have some amazing food from local restaurateurs.”

In Germany, it is not uncommon for large amounts of beer to be consumed during Oktoberfest. To keep this tradition alive, Oaktoberfest will have a variety of beer gardens serving beer to an expected crowd of beer lovers, locals and Cal Poly students. Firestone Walker Brewery will serve seasonal brews: Oaktoberfest, Solace and Velvet Merlin.

Spike’s American Pub will also supply beer for the event. Beer gardens will pour German brews such as Franziskaner (Spaten), the Hofbräu Müenchen Brewery, Firestone’s Oaktoberfest and various other beers for people to taste.

Oktoberfest is also well known for serving up some delicious German cuisine. People enjoy munching on sausage or schnitzel while singing, laughing and drinking with others at the festivals.

Oaktoberfest will have a variety of German food for beer enthusiasts to enjoy. Cattaneo Brothers Sausage will be offering various sausages on stick and sausage sandwiches, while Rooney’s Irish Pub of Orcutt, Calif., will be roasting a pig on site and serving up bratwursts for the hungry crowd.

Aside from beer and food, Oaktoberfest will have live music performed by polka group Trio International and ’80s cover band Fast Times. This will provide background tunes for people as they enjoy the festivities and the Beer Olympics event.

The Beer Olympics is one of the main events at Oaktoberfest and consists of a keg throwing competition, a barrel roll and a stein race. Last year’s keg-throwing champion Teddy Swan threw his keg 62-feet and is determined to beat that record this year.

Besides throwing around a heavy keg, people can come dressed up in lederhosen and other German attire in an attempt to win the costume contest.

Cal Poly alumna Shannon Sarver said she will be taking advantage of the German attire theme.

“We have a whole group going, (and) we will be dressing up for the first time this year,” said Sarver. “I am looking forward to dressing up this year and really getting into the spirit.”

Although it may sound like all fun and games, Oaktoberfest’s main goal is to raise money for an organization that helps the community by offering free help and support to those who are coping with a loss.

“I am excited every year for (Oaktoberfest),” said Holly Todd, Hospice of San Luis Obispo’s Director of Development. “It is an amazingly great event put on by Firestone. I will be attending to support those who support us.”

According to Todd, Hospice of San Luis Obispo gets a percentage of the proceeds, and these funds go to support the free services Hospice offers to the local community.

Hospice of San Luis Obispo has been offering free in-home assistance, grief counseling, group support and crisis intervention for more than 30 years in San Luis Obispo County. They rely mostly on volunteer work and donations. Oaktoberfest and other events help raise money and keep this service free to those who need it.

To prevent people from driving while intoxicated, there will be buses available to transport people to and from the event. According to Smith, the bus rides are free, but seating is first come, first served. Bus schedule and pick up times can be found at on the Oaktoberfest website in the frequently asked question section.

Oakotberfest will happen rain or shine, Manley said.

She said the forecast for the weekend shows warmth and clear skies.

Tickets for the event are available online, at the Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles or at Boo Boo Records. Tickets purchased in advance cost $20, $25 at the door. Each ticket comes with a commemorative half-liter beer stein, and your first beer is free.