It's time to break out your lederhosen. And if you don't know what that is, not to worry — you can buy the traditional German leather pants at the Monterey Bay Oktoberfest, along with hosentrager (the suspenders that hold them up) and drindl, the traditional ladies' dress (think St. Pauli Girl models).
After a successful debut last year, the Monterey Bay Oktoberfest will return to The Barnyard in Carmel this Saturday and Sunday.
In addition to regular admission tickets, VIP passes will be offered that include an entrance ticket, one traditional Bavarian dinner, two beers, one glass souvenir beer stein, one giant pretzel, a $10 gift certificate for Lugano Swiss Bistro and VIP seating. A portion of all proceeds will go toward the Carmel Lions Club.
"My heart has always been in Bavaria," said festival founder André Lengacher, who owns Lugano Swiss Bistro in Carmel.
His thick accent seems to promise an authentic Oktoberfest event. Lengacher grew up in the Swiss-German section of Switzerland known as Chur — only an hour away from Munich, where the Oktoberfest tradition originated in 1810.
"A lot of people over there dance on the tables," he mused, recounting memories of when he first attended Oktoberfest in Munich at the age of 16 (the drinking age in Germany). "Over there, there are 4,000 to 5,000 people in one tent. Music plays in the middle. It's a great party — you're eating sausages and chicken and drinking big steins of beer.
The Monterey Bay Oktoberfest should be somewhat smaller — and tamer — than the three-week festival in Munich that attracts 5million to 6million people each year. But the local family-friendly beer garden party should still include lots of foamy fun, music and dancing, albeit on the wiesn (the German word for lawn) rather than on the tables.
And Lengacher has stocked up on enough beer, bratwurst and Bavarian pretzels to feed the large crowd he expects this year.
"Last year, a week before the event, there were 300 reservations and 2,000 people came," he said. "This year we already have 1,800 reservations — so I'm prepared to have 6,000. That means a lot of beer, a lot of sausages and a lot of fr ulein (unmarried women)."
Lengacher said that in Munich they go through one billion beers each Oktoberfest, adding, "I ordered 150 kegs from Bavaria — and just yesterday I ordered another 25. So we'll have 175 kegs here."
The party begins both days at noon, but the opening ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, with special guest Hunter Finnell, of the local TV show "Around Carmel with Hunter Finnell."
Just as they do for opening ceremonies in Munich, Lengacher will open a barrel of beer with a wooden mallet and shout, "Prost!", the German word for "Cheers!".
He's chosen to serve one of the few select beer brands served at the Munich Oktoberfest, Spaten. Both Spaten Lager and Spaten Oktoberfest — a dark, aromatic beer — will be poured.
Other brands that will be served are Hofbrau (another German lager), as well as the Austrian beer, Stiegl, and beers and ciders from the local micro-brewery English Ales.
Typical German fare will be available, including both Bavarian and Swiss bratwurst, Bavarian roasted chicken, sauerkraut, breads and German potato salad.
Just like in Germany, an enormous tent will be set up on the Barnyard's wiesn to house a rousing party that will include live music by The Internationals, a group billed as "dance music from everywhere around the world."
With saxophone, tuba, traps and accordion, the quartet plays everything from country and folk to traditional German songs and American favorites.
The Internationals have played previously at the Oktoberfest in Munich and will be arriving in Monterey on the heels of their San Francisco Oktoberfest performance.
"They will have everyone dancing the chicken," said Lengacher.
In case you're wondering why an Oktoberfest is scheduled for September, Lengacher explained that he's just following tradition.
While the German festival originally began in October, it was moved into September to avoid coinciding with an early snow.
In fact, the Munich Oktoberfest has been cancelled only 24 times in its 200-year history — every time due to catastrophic events, including each of the two World Wars, cholera outbreaks and snow blizzards.
Today, the festival in Germany starts at the end of September and runs through the first week in October.
Also following tradition, Lengacher plans to serve 6,000 Bavarian pretzels that he's special-ordered from a bakery in San Diego. In preparation, he's cooking vats of his homemade mustard to be served alongside the doughy treats.
When asked what the difference is between German pretzels and the soft pretzels you might buy at the mall, Lengacher said it's in the size and the salt-crust.
He explained, "They are much bigger in size, and they are nice and crispy outside and moist inside. They have a salt-crust that goes well with beer." Prost!
Lily Dayton can be reached at email@example.com. GO!
What: Monterey Bay Oktoberfest
Where: The Barnyard Shopping Village, Carmel
When: Noon-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16
Tickets: General admission $17, VIP Pass $65, toddlers admitted free; military discount with ID ($10 regular, $50 VIP pass); available at www.oktoberfestmontereybay.com, The Barnyard Shopping Center office, or at Lugano Swiss Bistro
Information:www.oktoberfestmontereybay.com, or contact André Lengacher at 277-3779 or firstname.lastname@example.org