Annual La Mesa Oktoberfest puts people in good spirits

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The 43rd Annual La Mesa Oktoberfest from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 was a most welcome event this year, helping t make good neighbors of everyone. The largest Oktoberfest celebration west of the Mississippi, La Mesa Oktoberfest has been a tradition of the city since 1973. People of all ages enjoy the street festival along La Mesa Boulevard as well as the food, music and dancing at the Allison Street Stage.

The 43rd Annual La Mesa Oktoberfest from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 was a most welcome event this year, helping t make good neighbors of everyone. The largest Oktoberfest celebration west of the Mississippi, La Mesa Oktoberfest has been a tradition of the city since 1973. People of all ages enjoy the street festival along La Mesa Boulevard as well as the food, music and dancing at the Allison Street Stage.

The event this year was a little smaller than in years past. That simply left more room for all the bratwurst-eaters, the shoppers in the stores along the Boulevard, the dog-walkers, and families and friends to mill along the streets and enjoy the scene. The aroma of old-fashioned homemade root beer wafted on breezes. People gathered on the benches to talk with friends and neighbors.

The most happening spot to be at the festival was the Allison Street Stage. Revelers filled an authentic German beer garden, everyone sitting alongside each other at long tables eating and drinking, and getting up to dance to the band. La Mesa Oktoberfest wouldn’t have been the same without the San Diego Chicken Dance. So as soon as the band struck the first notes, people of all ages got up to groove, from moms and dads and grandparents to little kids and teen-agers.

“It was very different from years past,” said Cathy Anderson who attended the event the first evening with her husband and friends Dan and Roz Oserin.

“Less vendors, more food, in keeping with a true Oktoberfest. I liked it,” Anderson said.

The Andersons and Oserins thought about getting a bratwurst, but they opted to go into Johnny B’s for dinner. 

“Then we had dessert at a little vendor kiosk called Rita’s. Very good,” Anderson said.

After dinner and dessert, they lingered at the smaller beer garden behind Johnny B’s to enjoy the music. “We really liked the music there,” Roz Oserin said.    

“I felt like people had a good time with each other. I was pleasantly surprised. Plenty of people there, but not so many that you felt really crowded. It was a nice way to spend an evening,” Anderson said. 

Oserin agreed. “All in all, there was such an air of excitement and fun,” she said.

 Oktoberfest has its origins in Munich, Germany in 1810 with the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig of Bavaria. When he married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, the people partied from their wedding day on October 12, 1810 until October 17. Horse races were later included in the Oktoberfest, a custom lasting until 1938. One year later, an agricultural fair was added. By 1818, beer pubs featuring performers gained popularity. By 1887, lederhosen and dirndls became the traditional garb of the festival-goers. A full Bavarian tradition soon became a great tourist attraction and a way for visitors to learn about Bavaria and its people.

La Mesa Oktoberfest is in many ways also a celebration of the town and its people. Merchants, residents and visitors all came together to enjoy each other’s company amid the changing of the seasons. So much more than about beer drinking and bratwurst eating, the festival put everyone in good spirits.

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