Ah, Florida fall. Still about 90 degrees, still sunny, not a chill in the air at all despite the proliferation of pumpkin spice flavored everything.
Still, fall means it’s time to remember that you might have some German ancestry back there somewhere — or just voice your love of beer and pretzels. Prost!
Oktoberfest season technically already passed. The traditional German celebrations typically begin the third weekend of September and end the first weekend of October. But we Americans do our own thing. Besides, we can’t all hop on a plane to Munich to celebrate the true German way in September.
If you’re ready to get your lederhosen on, here are the hot spots this year:
The Mother of local Oktoberfest Celebrations:
If you just want an excuse to drink beer out of a stein, there are plenty of events going on at local venues (see below). But, if you’re serious about enjoying authentic German culture while celebrating the tradition, then the German American Social Club’s 32nd annual Oktoberfest in Cape Coral is a must.
This year the two-weekend event will be held the last weekends of the month, Oct. 20-22 and Oct. 27-29. The Oktoberfest is held at the Cape Coral Oktoberfest grounds, 2101 SW Pine Island Road.
It’s a bit of a drive if you live in Fort Myers, but you could spend a few hours eating a full, sit-down dinner of traditional and homemade foods like schweinshaxen and schnitzel, downing pints of imported German beers, and perusing the vendors for fun trinkets. Several stages are spread out through the event park, and include two visiting German bands, dancing and live music. This is a family-friendly event; there are carnival rides for kids, arts and crafts vendors and exhibits.
The full event program, including a menu of food items and schedule of events, is available here.
Tickets are $5 in advance (see a list of sellers here) or $6 at the door for adults and children 12 years of age or younger are free. Parking for the event is free.
Not looking for a full-experience commitment? Not to worry. You can still chug from stein at the following events.
A note to the competitive spirits:
Several local Oktoberfest celebrations are featuring the Samuel Adams Hoist for Hurricane Relief competition. This competition sponsored by Samuel Adams puts arm strength to the test by challenging men and women to see who can hoist a stein filled with beer for as long as possible. This year, Sam Adams is donating $1 to hurricane relief for every minute a stein of Oktoberfest brew is held up at one of their events. You get a beer, so if you feel like celebrating and helping a good cause, look for this featured contest.
Thursday, Oct. 12, 4 to 10 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 13, 4 p.m. to midnight
Saturday, Oct. 14, noon to midnight
Sunday, Oct. 15, noon to 8 p.m.
Millennial will launch first annual event with its themed Oktoberfest brew — and sell limited edition Oktoberfest 1-liter mugs to match. Four to six food trucks will be on site providing food, including traditional German fare. The brewery will have a Munich-style tent pavilion out front. Live music Friday and Saturday starting at 7 p.m.; during the day on Saturday and Sunday, a kid’s fun area will be set up with a bounce house and fun activities.
As everyone downs a few liters, Millennial promises you’ll be in the mood for a sing-along (really, this is authentic Munich style celebrating. Sweet Caroline has never sounded so good as it does after liter three).
Family and pet friendly. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sidney Berne Art Center and the American Legion.
Friday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 15
Featuring the Samuel Adams stein hoist, The Lodge’s hoisting competition will be held Friday. The women’s competition begins at 7 p.m. and men’s at 8:30 p.m. Prizes are to be won, including cash rewards.
If you show up dressed for the occasion (rustle together your best Oktoberfest costume), The Lodge’s Facebook promises you a house drink, FO FREE, for your effort.
The kitchen will feature German specials, and the self-tap wall will be filled with Oktoberfest drafts.
Social House, 1406 Hendry Street, Fort Myers
Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14.
Brats, pretzels and $6 stein specials — can you say no?
On Saturday, Social House will host the Samuel Adams stein house, with the women’s competition at 7 p.m. and men’s at 8:30 p.m.
Big Blue Brewing Company, 4721 SE 10th Pl, Cape Coral
Friday, Oct. 13
Celebration begins at 3 p.m. with special brews, Pumpkin Spice and Oktoberfest. There will be games, prizes and fun, and some specials featuring German food favorites.