There will be more than 5000 German sausages, 250-plus kg of sauerkraut and over 10,000 litres of Germany’s finest brews onsite at Harmonie German Club’s Oktoberfest – but not a local craft beer in sight.
After a two-year hiatus, Canberra’s answer to the world-famous “volksfest” is set to inject some oompah into spring over two wunderbar days of amusement rides, entertainment, food and of course – beer.
Club CEO Paul Berger says the integrity of the beer offering is a point of pride – particularly the festival’s official beer, the Hofbräu.
“Hofbräu is the king of breweries in Munich,” he says.
“For us to feature that beer is a real coup, not many places in Australia can get that imported beer on tap.”
All 14 beers on offer – from the “Märzenbier” (March beer) to “Dunkel” (lager) and “Hefferveisen” (wheat beer) to “Helles” (pale lager) – are imported.
But while authentic German brews form the unsurprising centrepiece, it’s not the beer-all and end-all.
Though reduced from three days, Paul says all the same action of previous Oktoberfest events is crammed into two high-energy days.
Rooted in a carnival atmosphere, guests will enjoy free amusement rides, a plethora of merchandise and plenty of entertainment throughout the weekend, including live German music and professional and community “Schuhplattler” (traditional Bavarian slap dancing).
Competitions include a stein hold, keg roll, strong man, “Fingerhakeln” (finger wrestling with a leather strap) and Miss Oktoberfest.
Traditional German food includes sausages (kranskys and bratwursts), “Kartoffelpuffer” (potato pancakes) served with apple sauce or sour cream and chives, apple strudel, black forest cake and pretzels.
“For the first year we’re also offering a crowd favourite in Munich, the ‘Wiesnhendl’ or meadow chicken, which our friends at the Portuguese association will be putting up,” Paul says.
“There will also be roast pork or beef, which you can get on rolls or in a meal, or ‘Currywurst’. That’s chopped sausages in a curry sauce served with bread or chips – a popular Bavarian street food.”
Paul says Saturday is the “party day”.
“We want people decked out in their lederhosen and enjoying Oktoberfest for all it is,” he says.
“That’s the main event, then Sunday is Funday for families. Kids get free entry and with free amusement rides for the entire weekend, it’s a very good-value festival.
“We also have 35 market stalls that create a family market day hut with a German theme.”
Buses will shuttle revellers from several points all over Canberra and as far afield as Bungendore to deliver an expected 7000 people over the two days.
Although La Nina is threatening events all along Australia’s east coast this year, organisers have gone to great lengths to ensure this one isn’t a washout.
The main event is under a 65 by 45-metre festival tent with a 2500-seated capacity.
“The event is going ahead rain, hail or shine,” Paul says.
Harmonie German Club has been running Oktoberfest since 1967.
The event outgrew its original venue on club grounds and has since been held at EPIC and Thoroughbred Park.
It was held at Queanbeyan Showgrounds for the first time in 2017, a move that solidified its reputation for authenticity.
“The feedback we received from our German patrons was that it was the most like the real deal,” Paul says.
“Oktoberfest in Germany is traditionally held on ‘weisen’, which translates to meadow or field. So moving out of an enclosed shed and into the ‘weisen’ with tents, the atmosphere out there is what you can expect from the actual Oktoberfest.”
Oktoberfest is on 29 and 30 October at Queanbeyan Showgrounds. Adult tickets start from $16.84 and kids are free on Sunday. Visit the Harmonie German Club website for more information, or purchase tickets here.