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October 1, 2008 (East County) - Time to get into the zeitgeist (spirit
of the time) and take to the streets for some old-fashioned celebrating at
East County’s multiple Oktoberfests!  

Began in Bavaria to celebrate the marriage of royalty, Oktoberfests have since
gained popularity worldwide.  Below are details on our region’s
oldest and biggest Oktoberfests, where you can savor German food, music, and


OCT. 3-5

By Kristin Hobbs Kjaero

Richard Felix, involvement in La Mesa’s Oktoberfest began with
wiping tables at age 12. His father, George Felix, proposed the idea
31 years ago. La Mesa Oktoberfest is not only a local family tradition,
but a cherished community happening.

“My father liked to travel and saw the festivals in Europe, so
he got together with Gordon Austin, then-President of the La Mesa Chamber
of Commerce,” said Felix, who has organized the event for the past
ten years.

Over the past generation, it has evolved from small town gathering to
street party to this year’s family-oriented event the first week
of October.  In recent years, La Mesa’s Oktoberfest has attracted
more than 200,000 visitors, becoming the biggest Oktoberfest west of
the Mississippi.

have included the Village Merchants Association, the old La Mesa Chamber,
the East County Chamber, and this year the new La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
(LMCC) Passions run high among them, but one thing is clear: everyone
views Oktoberfest as a hallmark La Mesa community event.

It began as a dance floor in the intersection of La Mesa Blvd. and Palm
Ave. with an oompah band, a truck that sold beer, folk dance clubs, and
families manning the grills. The village fabric and shoe store sold folk
costumes materials, and many a child was so attired over the years.

In recent years it grew into a craft fair, a beer garden with headliner
acts late into the night, and a crowd that more than triples the city’s
population during Oktoberfest hours.

This year Oktoberfest shifts back towards its family-friendly origins.   “We
have family style entertainment, games for all ages, serving ice cream
for children, soda and soft drinks and more,” said LMCC president
Mary England. “It’s not just about the beer!”

While there will be two small beer gardens for 21 and over, the Karl
Strauss Pavillion main beer garden and stage is moving to Palm Avenue,
where children may dine and dance with their families. Traditional German
fare and entertainment, including Peter Pan Junior Theater, have been
chosen to appeal to all ages. In addition to over 300 craft and commercial
booths, there will also be a children’s carnival. 

Live entertainment will include Joe Dyke and his Bavarian Beergarden
Band, Alpine Gemütlichkeit Dancers, Helix High School Band and Pipes,
San Diego Concert Band, and the El Cajon German Band.  

Oktoberfest runs October 3-5 in the La Mesa Village.  The beer
pavilion is open 11a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. on

Service animals only will allowed. Parking is limited, but trolley and
bus service takes you to the heart of this event; find transit schedules
at www.sdcommute.com.

For more information, visit www.lmvma.com/lmv_oktoberfest.html.

Kristin Hobbs Kjaero grew up dancing in the street with
her family at Oktoberfest.

GERMAN OKTOBERFEST,  October 3-5 and October 10-12

By Miriam Raftery

German American Societies hosts a traditional German Oktoberfest featuring
fun-filled events October 3-5 and 10-12, 2008. Hours of the festival
are Fridays from 3:00 to 10:00 PM, Saturdays from noon until 10:00 PM,
and Sundays from noon until 9:00 PM. 

Selected as one San Diego’s top five festivals by SignOnSanDiego.com
readers in four of the past six years, German Oktoberfest this year will
feature a series of Community Days, in which elected officials and other
honored members of the East County will be recognized:

Saturday, October 4 -  El Cajon, Lakeside, and Julian. Representatives
from these communities will also participate in our annual opening parade
and ceremonial "Tapping the Wooden Keg," at 4:00 PM.  Sunday,
October 5, is Alpine, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley Day. 

October 11, Santee and La Mesa
: The parade at 4:00 PM is also
the annual tribute to Kinder, the children, who will turn out in traditional

Sunday, October 12- Oktoberfest in El Cajon:  The
second annual Chicken Hat Day will feature Mother Goose and the Mother
Goose Parade Queen and her Court. There is also a chicken hat contest,
hosted by our favorite chicken hat model, Mayor Mark Lewis. Oktoberfest
in El Cajon
is open to the public with a donation of $5 for
age 21 and over ($3 for club members), teens and children under 21 and
all active military are admitted for free.  Authentic German food,
such as bratwurst, ox-on-the-spit, potato salad, potato pancakes, sauerkraut
and red cabbage will be served, along with a tasty variety of German
pastries. Soft drinks and adult beverages will be available, including
German beers and liquors.

Dance to an authentic German band from Baden-Württemberg, Germany,
called Guggenbach-Buam. Musicians dress in traditional clothing and play
a variety of German music, just as you would hear in the beer gardens
of Bavaria!  Folk singing and dance performances will be featured,
along with games and contests, vendor and craft booths, plus a Kids’ Fun
Zone.  On Saturday nights, the clubhouse is open for dancing (8
pm to midnight). A raffle prize giveaway of a round-trip ticket for two
to Germany is a highlight, along with many other door prizes.  For
more information please phone (619) 442-6637. The address is 1017 S.
Mollison Avenue, El Cajon (from San Diego take I-8 East, turn South on
Mollison Avenue)

For a complete schedule of events, visit www.OktoberfestElCajon.com.

For more festivals and events throughout East County and San Diego’s
eastern region, check East County Magazine’s calendar
of events

Miriam Raftery is an East County native who has been savoring
our region’s festivals for many years.

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