El Cajon’s Oktoberfest authentically German, with plenty of fun-filled frolic for the whole family

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Celebrating its 42nd year, the German American Societies of San Diego, Inc., is once again hosting two consecutive weekends of festivities, Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 4-6, at the group’s clubhouse compound that aim to transport attendees to a Bavarian village where everyone might “sing your name.”

Ranking as fourth amongst the best Facebook rated Oktoberfest’s held in the US, this local event boasts an atmosphere that its promoters also single out as being “more authentic”.

Celebrating its 42nd year, the German American Societies of San Diego, Inc., is once again hosting two consecutive weekends of festivities, Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 4-6, at the group’s clubhouse compound that aim to transport attendees to a Bavarian village where everyone might “sing your name.”

Ranking as fourth amongst the best Facebook rated Oktoberfest’s held in the US, this local event boasts an atmosphere that its promoters also single out as being “more authentic”.

“This is the only local Oktoberfest put on by Germans,” said Wendel Jenkins, German American Societies vice president. “We try to create a more authentic atmosphere.  For instance, we’ve flown the band, Guggenbach-Buam from Baden-Guttemberg, Germany, and they’ll be playing favorite traditional songs that you might hear in the beer gardens of Bavaria”. 

Mike Anderson, Oktoberfest chairman, manned the food court ticket booth, expressed his excitement for this year’s event while marveling on how the festival has evolved over the years.

“I’ve been running it for 18 years and have watched it grow bigger as it evolved,” he said. “This year we’ll have a great turn-out. We also have a free shuttle service from the El Cajon Transit center to facilitate safe attendance and to help discourage drinking and driving. We love putting this all together and want everyone who attends to have a great time. We aim to put on a family oriented event that is safe, enjoyable and affordable.”

Anderson explained that festival preparations began in March and that all committee members are volunteers that love upholding the traditions they celebrate, sharing them with the community.

“We have the famous traditional foods that people come to expect, such as ox-on-a-spit, bratwurst, potato salad–we make thousands of pounds of potato salad–sauerkraut, red cabbage, potato pancakes and pretzels,” he said. “The food is all made by the club to ensure quality control. There are also beverages which include water, sodas and this year we have over ten kinds of beer.”

The festival also boast traditional folk dancers, the expected Oom-Pah music, dance and sing-a-longs, craft booths, raffles, German games, a kids’ fun zone and the silly Chicken Hat Day contest hosted by El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis on Oct. 6.

La Mesa resident Rachel Smith has come to the event for several years, but this year she decided to dress in costume for the first time. She describes her traditional Bavarian dirndl with its hand embroidered edelweiss flowered border and crocheted white apron as being indigenous to a South Eastern Germany region, bordering Austria. Smith speaks German and has come to the Oktoberfest with her parents. Although she is not a committee member, nor part of any entertainment group, Smith said she is excited to be donning her costume as it makes her feel more integrated with the theme of the festivities.

“I bought it online and it’s made in Germany,” she said. “It feels great to be here and I’m planning on having a great time.”

Heidi Williams, German American Societies club business manager and membership chairwoman participated in costume and cashiered at the wildly popular pastry booth.

“People come from all over to delight in our pastries,” said Williams. “We have marzipan, strudels, Bavarian cream and fruit filled pastries.  This year the event has really exploded.  Word is out that this is the traditional and real Oktoberfest and we love sharing it with everyone.”

Entry donation is $5. Free shuttle service from the El Cajon Transit center is offered to discourage drinking and driving and offset parking demands.