Lift a stein to celebrate the harvest’s bounty at Oktoberfest

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



Oktoberfest at Salmon Creek Brewpub

When: Sept. 17, 3 p.m. until dark.

What: Annual celebration of German culture and fundraiser for the Lions Club. Food, locally brewed beer, music and the occasional guest clad in lederhosen.

Where: 108 West Evergreen Blvd.

Cost: Suggested $5 donation to the Lions Club for admission. Sausage platter, $13.95. Bratwurst, $8.95. Beer and wine prices vary.

Information:Salmon Creek Brewpub or 360-993-1827.

Oktoberfest & Harvest Celebration

When: Sept. 23, 5:30-10:30 p.m.

What: Seventh annual celebration benefit for Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation. Food, liquor, German music. For ages 21 and over.

Where: Shorty’s Garden and Home, 10006 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd.

Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Tickets available in advance at Shorty’s locations in Vancouver and Ridgefield.

Information:Shorty's Garden & Home or 360-892-7880.

Oktoberfest at Gustav’s Vancouver

When: Sept. 23-24, evenings.

What: Accordion player will entertain diners and some special Oktoberfest items will appear on the food and beer menus.

Where: Gustav’s Restaurant, 1705 SE 164th Ave.

Cost: Free admission.

Information:Gustav's Restaurant or 360-883-0222.

Laurelfest at Laurelwood Brew Pub

What: Celebrate the release of two seasonal beers, along with a special barbecue menu, music by Matt Brown and children’s activities.

Where: 1401 SE Rasmussen Blvd., Battle Ground.

When: 3-9 p.m. Sept. 17.

Cost: Free admission.

Information: Call 360-723-0937 or Laurelwood Brew Pub.

Don’t fear the lederhosen, Vancouver.

If you see the occasional happy-looking guy wandering around the city in German attire, or perhaps an accordion player entertaining a crowd, it doesn’t mean you’ve entered a wormhole into another country.

Oktoberfest has come to Clark County, and participants hope newcomers will join them for the annual celebration of food, beer and all things German.

“It’s a celebration of the harvest,” said Larry Pratt, owner of Salmon Creek Brewpub. “It’s a great time to just eat and drink and have fun.”

Pratt, who’s also the pub’s brewmeister — and our cover model for the section this week — spent three years stationed in Fulda, Germany, when he was in the Army during the Cold War. Through his time there, he fell in love with German customs and especially Oktoberfest, he said.

“Over there, the celebration lasts for over a month, almost until Christmas,” Pratt said. “It’s very festive. People just have a great time.”

The festival started in Bavaria, Germany, in 1811, as two-week gathering to promote agriculture. Since then the Munich-based event has grown into the world’s largest fair, with 5 million people attending annually, and smaller celebrations have popped up in countries all over the world.

Salmon Creek Brewpub will kick off local Oktoberfest celebrations on Saturday, coinciding with the Sept. 17 launch of the event in Germany.

In Germany, only beer brewed within the city limits of Munich can be served at the official event.

Here in Vancouver, Pratt has brewed two of his own beers for the local version of the festival.

“I made an Oktoberfest, which is a traditional German style that they brew with Vienna malt and low hops,” Pratt said. “I also have a Hellas, which is a light beer that’s another take from German recipes.”

The Salmon Creek Brewpub event will raise money for the Vancouver Lions Club. There will be live German accordion music, special German sausage and bratwurst dishes, and beer, of course.

Several members of the Lions Club will also wear traditional German outfits as part of the event and they will raffle off a large, traditional German beer stein as part of the fundraising, he said.

The event usually raises between $900 and $1,800 for the Lions each year, he added.

If you can’t make it to the Salmon Creek Brewpub party, don’t worry. The festivities will continue during the weekend of Sept. 23 at Shorty’s Garden and Home and at Gustav’s Restaurant in Vancouver.

Shorty’s event is for people age 21 and over. It will be Friday, Sept. 23, as a fundraiser for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation.

Guests can enjoy the landscape center’s greenery and listen to a live performance by Donaumusikanten, a popular band from Bavaria. Beaches restaurant will be on hand catering a variety of German dishes, and several types of beer and wine will be available.

“It’s about as authentic as you can get,” said Colin Mahoney, the general manager. “It’s a big party, very lively, and very entertaining.”

Last year, the event raised about $15,000 for local libraries, Mahoney said.

If you want to partake, though, it’s a good idea to get your tickets early. The event almost always sells out before the doors open.

“Usually when we get to 850 or 900 people we cut it off,” Mahoney said. “That tends to happen at least a few days beforehand.”

Gustav’s Restaurant in Vancouver will also have an accordion player on hand to entertain guests on the evenings of Sept. 23 and 24. Special Oktoberfest menu items include eyestein, a two-pound pork shank served with pineapple-habañero sauerkraut and a smoked blue-cheese fondue served with cubed, baked pretzels.

“It’s a great event for the entire family,” said Hannah Hasbrook, the executive coordinator. “Our accordion player will play traditional German music, but he’ll also entertain people with some more fun songs, like ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’”

For the adults, the restaurant has stocked up on some authentic Munich beers, including Hofbrau, Spaten and Paulaner’s seasonal Oktoberfest beers, she said.

Are you wondering, by the way, why Oktoberfest is held in September? Wonder no more.

The festival originally started in October in Germany, but was moved back to September so that people could enjoy the warmer weather and longer days.

And if you’re not German, don’t worry. All are welcome to celebrate, said Pratt.

“I’m Irish and English,” Pratt said. “That’s about as German as it gets, isn’t it? And I love to celebrate Oktoberfest.”