Although the original Oktoberfest took place at an 1810 Bavarian wedding celebration for King Louis I and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, East County Oktoberfests have a history of their own. The annual El Cajon Oktoberfest turns 50 this year while La Mesa is not far behind in hosting its 49th Oktoberfest.
Hosted by the German American Societies of San Diego club, the El Cajon Oktoberfest will feature live music, German food, vendor and craft booths and a kids zone. However, event Chair Mike Anderson said the real draw is the culture.
“The culture— you almost feel left out if you’re not wearing lederhosen. As our club gets older, a lot of the first generation are gone but people keep the traditions going and wear their trachten, the customary dress. Men wear their lederhosen and women wear dirndls,” Anderson said.
Although there are other festivals, he said, “the things I think set us apart are the band, the beer and the food,” all of which are German.
The band, Die Guggenbach- Buam, travels every year from Baden-Württemberg in Germany and has been playing at the El Cajon Oktoberfest for about 20 years, Anderson said.
The El Cajon Oktoberfest runs for two weekends: Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 and Oct. 7- 9. Adult tickets are $15 for Fridays and Saturdays, $5 on Sundays and tickets allow access to the entire event. Active-duty military, German American Societies club members and guests under age 21 are free.
The German American Societies club is located at 1017 S. Mollison Avenue, El Cajon.
Meanwhile, La Mesa’s Oktoberfest includes wiener dog races and a doggy fashion show at the Dackeldorf Dachshund village, and the Glucklich Games including an obstacle course, strong man and strong woman contests, and other strength and endurance tests as well as a bratwurst-eating competition.
The La Mesa Oktoberfest runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. General entry to the La Mesa Oktoberfest is free but there is a $5 fee to enter the biergarten. VIP packages run $10-45.