Hosted by the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce, the annual German festival is one of the largest in the southland.
By Lisa PAREDES
ontrose welcomes its 37th annual Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday with traditional German music, beer, food and fun for the whole family. One of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in Southern California and the largest event of the year for the City of Glendale and the Foothills community, event organizers expect approximately 25,000 people to attend.
“Our Oktoberfest has become a family tradition for many people and they look forward to coming back every year,” said Melinda Clarke, executive director of the Montrose-Verdugo Chamber of Commerce. “We have tried in the past few years to really put an emphasis on families and have created a kids zone that takes up most of the 2400 block.”
The origins of Oktoberfest are often discussed with some saying the celebration of German beers was first held to celebrate a royal wedding in 1812. Others say it hearkens back to more ancient harvest festivals. No matter the origins in Germany, Oktoberfest has become synonymous with a genial celebration of German beer and food throughout the world.
Traditionally, beer for the Oktoberfest was brewed annually in March, before the heat of summer and increased bacteria could interfere with the brewing process. Called Märzenbier, this beer is usually higher in alcohol so as to remain stable through the summer. During October, the previous year’s beer was consumed to create room for a new batch of beer.
“We will have Spaten Oktoberfest which is made in Munich, poured in Munich and is known as the world’s first Oktoberfest beer,” added Clarke. “It is traditionally called Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau and is a Marzen-style beer, amber in color and is slightly hoppy.”
“We will have Beck’s Oktoberfest which is brewed in Bremen, Germany, and is made in accordance with the reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law of 1516,” she also said. “Our final German beer is the Karl Strauss Oktoberfest in which Vienna and Munich malts produce the deep golden color, nutty undertones, and toasted malt flavors characteristic of this renowned Bavarian beer style.”
In addition to the beer, authentic German food including bratwurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad, turkey legs and turkey sandwiches will be provided by Schreiner’s Fine Sausages. A funnel cake stand will be a new addition for this year’s celebration.
In 1956, the first Oktoberfest in California was celebrated in the foothills area at Crescenta Valley Park. Up until 1957, the German-American League, a group that promoted German culture, privately owned the west end of the park, explained Clarke.
Called Hindenburg Park, it was named after Paul Von Hindenburg who was a German WWI hero and president of Germany from the late 1920s to the early 1930s. During the ’30s, ’40s and the ’50s, German cultural celebrations, featuring bands, plays, dances, and parades, were held at the park on weekends, serving German beer, wine and food.
Oktoberfest became popular in the German-American community after WWII when American GIs returned home from Bavaria. By the early 1970s, Oktoberfest celebrations grew in popularity throughout the United States.
Clarke also mentioned new rides that will be set up along with some new musical groups for entertainment. Flights Over Phoenix with local resident Chris Santillo and “outrageous ’80s cover band” Past Action Heroes are slated to perform.
A band composed of area youth from Crescenta Valley Church will sing popular hits. Traditional German songs will also be played on the glockenspiel.
“One of the most exciting additions to our Oktoberfest entertainment is the students from Franklin Magnet School in lower Glendale,” added Clarke. Franklin Magnet offers four different dual language programs in French, German, Italian and Spanish. Students from kindergarten through sixth grade will sing songs in German.
“Many people in the community tell me that it is a family tradition to come to this annual event and look forward to it every year,” she said. “I have met people who remember coming as a kid and are now coming with their own kids.
“This event really puts a spotlight on the Montrose community and brings people here who might not even know that our beautiful town of Montrose exists.”
More information on the food, beer and entertainment can be found online at http://montrose.myiclick.com/of/.
Montrose Oktoberfest is presented by the Montrose-Verdugo Chamber of Commerce and runs from noon until 11 p.m. on Saturday. Parking is available in a number of public lots near the event, which is held along the 2200 through the 2400 blocks of Honolulu Avenue between Ocean View Boulevard and Sunset Avenue.