Oktoberfest, a global touchstone, comes to Frisco

Ein Bayerischer Bierhimmel …

A blue and white Bavarian beer sky greeted revelers Saturday at the Frisco Oktoberfest.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The blue sky and puffy white clouds over Frisco matched the checkered tablecloths at the Frisco Oktoberfest perfectly. It’s so classic, there’s even a German saying for it: Der Bayerische Bierhimmel, loosely translated as the Bavarian beer sky.

And with a spired beer tent mirroring the shapes of the nearby Tenmile Range, and guests sprawled on the green grass nearby, day one of this year’s local edition of the seasonal beer bash also captured some of the feel of the traditional Bavarian beer gardens, where the scene is somewhat less hectic than at the full-blown version in Munich each year. There was music, leg-wrestling, face-painting, along with plenty of schnitzel, roast pork, sauerkraut, apple strudel. Of course, the beer flowed freely, which is a good thing for the Summit Concert Band, which will benefit from the proceeds.

The fun continues Sunday (Sept. 5) at the Frisco Nordic Center, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.



Oktoberfest has become one of those global touchstones of the modern world, a cultural thread that’s based on a very regional tradition, but still manages to transcend political and ideological boundaries. Anyone who’s been to the event in Munich will tell you that one of its hallmarks is the mingling of nationalities, all trying to sing along to the same song — well, all except the Aussis and the Kiwis, who have a checkered history of facing off against each other in the Hofbraü tent.

The original version in Munich began as a public celebration of a royal wedding. Those monarchs knew their subjects well, and figured that opening the taps for two weeks in late summer and early fall would help keep the natives from becoming restless. Since then, the fest has become one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions. Some people may scoff at the many spin-off Oktoberfests that are held around the world each year, but I see it as an homage to something that’s much bigger than any one city or country. And it’s a chance for grown men to wear leather shorts with suspenders — what could be better than that?

And here in Frisco we’re truly lucky to have good people like Gene and Therese Dayton, who are hosting the fest at the Frisco Nordic Center, as well as Andy Grogger, who puts the whole thing together. Grogger is a native of Austria, but I won’t hold that against him, especially since the brats, schnitzels and pork roast he dishes up at various events around the county also transcend political borders.

We’re also graced with the musical talents of a local group called Those Austrian Guys, familiar to some as the band that plays up at the fondue feasts on Keystone Mountain. The music they play at the Oktoberfest in Frisco is authentic and traditional, stemming from a region of the world where music is an important part of mountain culture.

Check out some scenes from Saturday in the slideshow below and be sure to try Grogger’s Haschee Knoedel, a delectable dumpling filled  with a savory meat filling.

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