Portland, Oregon may be Beer City USA, but our roots will always lead us back to Bavaria. Often imitated, never replicated, Munich’s world-famous Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world. To celebrate this joyous changing of the seasons in Portland, one needs not to look any further than through the windshield of a BREWVANA bus!
We’re taking a bunch of people to the Hood River Fresh Hop Festival which follows the tradition of an “agricultural festival” that we talk about a bit later. You can HOP on the Bus to that this Saturday: Hood River Fresh Hops Fest.
But it wasn’t always about beer, pretzels, and lederhosen.
Okay, it really mostly always was about beer, pretzels, and lederhosen, but how and why did it begin? Why, specifically from the middle of September to the beginning of October, do Bavarians and tourists alike pound around 66,000 barrels of beer?
Marriage. It’ll do that to a country. More specifically, it was a royal wedding between then Prince Ludwig (who would eventually become king), and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12th, 1810. The entire community was invited to attend, and they brought one hell of a party.
Choirs of children clothed in traditional, regional garb entertained guests as they drank wine and beer and watched horses race. The event was such a smashed and smashing success, local leaders sought to replicate the party the very next year. Using the excuse of an “agricultural festival,” the volksfest (beer fest and traveling fair) continued in 1811. As it grew in size and purpose throughout the 19th century, entrepreneurs and breweries became more significantly involved. More amusements, games, and amenities were added. Beer stands were replaced by tents, and eventually entire halls. The horse racing was replaced by, you guessed it, more beer.
A hiccup in the tradition occurred early on, when in 1813 the festival was canceled because some jerk from wine country tried to take over the continent. His name was Napoleon Bonaparte. Other hiccups included World War I, as well as the two years following the war, when inflation was just too damn high.
Nowadays, Oktoberfest is a massive event drawing guests from all around the world. However, if you’re trapped in Portland like I am (and I’m not complaining), there are plenty of ways to celebrate your love for, uh, “Bavarian agriculture” without ever leaving the 503.
9/13-16 53rd Mount Angel Oktoberfest @ Downtown Mt Angel
9/22 Oktoberfest @ Stickmen 12-9pm
9/22 Oktoberfest @ Occidental 12-9pm
9/29 Widmer Brothers Oktoberfest @ Pioneer Square 12-11pm