This year’s Oktoberfest season won’t be as dry in Southern California as it was last year.
The coronavirus pandemic saw the cancellation of many autumn beer celebrations in 2020, even in the southern German city of Munich, the home of the world’s largest Oktoberfest.
Pretzels are traditional at Old World Village in Huntington Beach. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, The Orange County Register/SCNG)
Carter Schwarze, 3, plays the spoons with his father Eric and other from the group D’Gemutlichen Schuhplattler for the audience in the big tent during the Phoenix Club’s annual Oktoberfest in Anaheim on Sunday, September, 30, 2018. (Photo by Frank D’Amato, Contributing Photographer)
Rae Venner pours the first bears of the season during the 49th Annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest at the Big Bear Convention Center in Big Bear City, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Eric Reed/Contributing Photographer)
Visitors line up to enter Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest at the Big Bear Convention Center in 2019. (Eric Reed/Contributing Photographer, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
The Big Bear Convention Center is home to the annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest. (2019 photo by Eric Reed, contributing photographer, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
The Express Band opens the 49th Annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest in 2019. (Eric Reed/Contributing Photographer, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
A large glass of German beer is served at the Old World German Restaurant in Huntington Beach. Beer is part of the traditional Octoberfest celebrations. (2014 photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG) ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: oktoberfest.1031 – 10/29/14 – LEONARD ORTIZ, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER – What’s it like to party like a real German for Oktoberfest. We meet up with some natives at the Old World German Restaurant in Huntington Beach and find out the must have’s for the popular festival that each year draws more than 50,000 people to Huntington Beach.
Munich is sitting out 2021, as are several Southern California events, including the those at the Fairplex in Pomona and Alpine Village in Torrance.
But Oktoberfest is going forward in several cities.
“I think a lot of communities are looking forward to the Oktoberfest season as a way of continuing the path toward, however you define it, normalcy,” said Steve Hauser, president and chief executive officer of Paulaner USA.
Based in New York, Paulaner USA imports beer from Munich. According to the company, Paulaner Oktoberfest is the No. 1 beer at that city’s festival.
Some of the larger Southern California Oktoberfests acknowledge that their plans could change if the pandemic worsens. Some state their COVID-19 policies on their websites, but others do not mention the pandemic. At press time, none mentioned face coverings or checking vaccination status of attendees.
Celebrations in the United States take on American traditions, but most like to have at least a taste of Germany, Hauser said in a phone interview.
“People will say when an event doesn’t feature an authentic Oktoberfest beer, is doesn’t feel it’s as authentic an event.”
Munich’s Oktoberfest is similar to a state fair in the United States, taking place in giant, elaborately decorated tents, according to Hauser. It is put on by the city.
Oktoberfests in the United States tend to be more like street festivals, he said.
“The ones here are either put on by a small local community association or profit making ventures.”
To avoid supply chain problems created by the pandemic, Paulaner USA moved up its production schedule by a few weeks, Hauser said, taking orders in March to receive shipments in June.
He said there won’t be any supply issues in Southern California.
“You guys have all the beer you need for all the events and all the retail activations we have.”
Here are some of the celebrations having in Southern California. As with everything these days, plans and rules can change quickly due to the coronavirus, so check with the event directly for the most up-to-date information.
Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest
Where: Convention Center of Big Bear Lake, 42900 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake
When: Sept. 11-Nov. 7
Details: Oktoberfest has been a tradition in the San Bernardino Mountains since 1970. Festivities take place Friday through Sunday at two indoor bars and several beer gardens.
Both food and entertainment are a mix of German and American traditions. The menu includes bratwurst, knockwurst, apple strudel and pretzels, as well as burgers and Mexican food. Bavarian-style oompah bands will play indoors with country cover bands on the patio.
The festival promises a large variety of beers and wines, but had not posted details at press time.
COVID-19 precautions: Capacity will be limited, and the festival will not be bringing in polka bands from Germany.
Tickets: Prices vary by day and month, ranging from $15 to $28 for general adult admission. Reserved seating, indoors or outdoors, ranges from $35-$58 and includes cocktail service. Family packages are $48 and include admission for two adults and two children age 12 and younger, plus two kids meals.
Information: 909-585-3000, bigbearevents.com/oktoberfest
King Ludwig’s Oktoberfest
When: Sept. 17-19
Where: Noble Creek Park, 650 W. Oak Valley Parkway, Beaumont
Details: Festivities include brass bands, contests and wiener dog races. Anheuser-Busch is a sponsor, which should tell you something about the libations.
Tickets: Free admission, $5 parking.
Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest
When: Sept. 18-Oct 30
Where: Lake Arrowhead Village, State Highway 189, Lake Arrowhead
Details: The festival takes place Saturdays and Sundays outdoors at Lake Arrowhead Village, a lakeside shopping center with an Alpine theme.
Entertainment includes German bands, dancing and children’s games.
Beers include Franziskaner, Spaten and Stella Artois. Food includes bratwurst, knockwurst, sauerkraut, pretzels and German Potatoes.
COVID-19 precautions: The event announced on its website that it will follow any mandates that are imposed by local or state officials but will not impose its own.
Tickets: Admission is free, but drinking requires the purchase of a starter package for $22. It includes a commemorative mug and a beer or wine ticket. After that, drinks are $8 each, according to the event website.
Old World Village Oktoberfest
When: Sept. 19-Oct. 31
Where: Old World Village, 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach
Details: This venue, which features a 10,000-square-foot beer garden as well as a restaurant and German deli, will celebrate Oktoberfest Wednesday through Sunday with imported beers and German bands. Weeknights are family-friendly, but minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Weekends are for adults 21 and older.
COVID-19 precautions: Guests are asked to download their tickets in advance so the venue can staff according to attendance.
Tickets: Wednesdays and Thursdays are free. Admission is $10 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Information: 714-895-8020, oldworld.ws
Phoenix Club in Anaheim
When: Oct. 1-24
Where: 1340 S. Sanderson Ave., Anaheim
Hours: 6 p.m.-midnight Friday and 5 p.m.-midnight Saturday, both days for people 21 and older; families welcome noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Details: The Phoenix Club was founded in 1961 by German expatriates as a place to celebrate their culture. This year’s Oktoberest will be its last in Anaheim, according to a Facebook post. The building it has occupied since 1992 has been sold, and it intends to move to a different city in 2022.
This year’s celebration will be held in the club’s beer garden and a large tent. Entertainment will include Express Band and DJ Musikmeister, plus beer drinking and stein holding contests.
COVID-19 precautions: The event will be held under an outdoor canopy, and organizers will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tickets: $15 for general admission; $25 for admission and $12 food voucher; $5 for age 13-16 on Sundays. Ticketing will be done online to control attendance as a pandemic precaution.
Information: 714-563-4166, thephoenixclub.com
When: Oct. 2
Where: 2200-2400 blocks, Honolulu Ave., Montrose
Details: Festivities include oompah and cover bands, games, rides and family fun.
Tickets: Free admission.
When: Oct. 2
Where: Sylvan Park, 601 University St., Redlands
Details: Festivities include German food, yodeling and other contests.
Tickets: Information not available the time of publication.
Long Beach Oktoberfest
When: Oct. 22-31
Where: Scottish Rite Event and Cultural Center, 855 Elm Ave., Long Beach
Details: This inaugural event will take place in an 8,000-square-foot tent over two weekends. Fridays and Saturdays are age 21 and older, but Sundays are family-friendly.
It will feature entertainment by Festmeister Hans und Die Sauerkrauts. Beers will include Paulaner and Hofbrau. Foods include bratwurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad and soft pretzels.
Tickets: General admission is $20. VIP admission is $125 and includes parking, seats near the stage, food, beer, wine, dedicated servers and a souvenir stein.