Oktoberfest: a festival synonymous with beer and the beginning of fall. But there’s more to this ski town favorite than meets the eye. Delve into the history of why Oktoberfest is held in September, why every mountain town celebrates this annual fete, and learn about how the original Oktoberfest didn’t even have beer!
The Oktoberfest we’ve come to know and love actually began as a celebration of a marriage. In 1810 in Munich, where Oktoberfest continues to be held, there were festivities to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. They enjoyed the festivities so much, they started making it an annual event. The over 200-year-old event has grown to become the largest annual festival in the world with millions drawn to Munich to celebrate for 16 days in late September.
As the years went by, the Oktoberfest celebrations continued to change. The festival was moved to September to allow for better weather conditions, when patrons could enjoy beer gardens or strolling the fields into the night. In 1818, eight years after the first Oktoberfest, food booths and beer along with them, were introduced, marking a historic occasion for this now beer-focused event. In 1892, beer began to be served in glass mugs or the steins which we have come to know and love.
Over time, the event became so popular in Munich that other cities, countries, and continents began to participate in the event. German immigrants, drawn to the mountains of American resort towns, ensured that festive Oktoberfests would become an integral part of many mountain towns like Breckenridge, Snowbird, and of course, Sun Valley.
Sun Valley’s Oktoberfest
Ketchum’s Oktoberfest began as a part of the former Harvest Festival, giving locals an excuse to party and welcome the start of fall. Usually this event is more than just an excuse to get day drink in town square with all your friends, it’s an opportunity to see live music; play beer garden games like beer pong, cornhole and the famous Hammerschlagen; try the photo booth or chicken bingo; participate in the hourly Masskrustemmen (Stein hoisting) contest; get competitive in the beer Olympics; eat hot dogs and bratwurst. This year, we party in Festival Meadows as Sun Valley’s only fall festival!
The event is obviously a great chance to try Sawtooth Brewery’s fall beers, including the addition of a Bavarian Hefeweizen called Festival Hefe this year for the first time. After choosing your size of drinking vessel (pint, stein, or boot), patrons have their choice of beers: Oktoberfest!, Cold Springs Pilsner, Cranberry Gosé, Festival Hefe, and Barrel Aged Standhope Doppelbock. A Raspberry Widers Cider is available for those that are gluten-free and canned root beer is available for those under 21.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17
- Beer Garden opens 4pm-9pm!
- 4pm | Tapping of the Firkin by the Mayor and the Opening of Oktoberfest!
- 5pm | Live Music
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
12pm – 9pm | Beer Garden open
12pm – 2:30pm | Live Music
3pm | Beer Olympics
5pm – 7:30pm | Live Music
More details can be found here.
Images courtesy of the Sawtooth Brewery