By, Rick Beitman
Oktoberfest, while famous in Munich, Germany, is no longer just a Bavarian thing. – Tempe, Arizona celebrated its own version of the popular beer festival at Tempe Beach Park overlooking beautiful Tempe Town Lake on October 10-12. While the weekend celebration in Tempe may not be in its 182nd year, like the time-honored Munich festival, it has become a local tradition in its own right.
Tempe Oktoberfest is a very Americanized edition, however it is very welcome in the community, attracting an abundance of volunteers to work the event and hordes of thirsty Menschen to drink there year after year. – Four Peaks Brewing Company, a popular microbrewery based in Tempe, sponsors the annual event. – Fall is a big deal for the craft brewery not just because of Oktoberfest, but it also taps its Pumpkin Porter, a pumpkin-flavored, seasonal beer whose blend changes every year.
There are a variety of beverage options amongst the beer gardens and tents. Even though it does sponsor, there is plenty of competition for Four Peaks. Imports abound from the Warsteiner Tent, the Widmer Brothers, Becks, and the Beers of the World Tent. The Budweiser Annex Truck provides American brews for the less adventurous. And the wine gardens provide an alternative for the non-beer drinker.
Of course Oktoberfest is not just about beer. Locally sourced meats provided for the “German” bratwurst often paired with sauerkraut. Baked goods on offer included strudel and pretzels. Kabobs, Mexican food, sweets, and all manner of fare were also available.
Entertainment included family-friendly options such as a carnival and “kinderfest”. – Three large stages were set up for musical numbers. An eclectic lineup of bands played from opening until closing, Friday through Sunday.
According to Tempe Sister Cities, which hosts the event, Oktoberfest now attracts approximately 200,000 people each year. Started by the Tempe Sister Cities program in the 1970s to “honor [their] Bavarian Sister City of Regensburg, Germany”, Oktoberfest is no longer just a German funfair, but has evolved to become a part of local culture as well.