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Bavarian-style blast in Helen
Oktoberfest continues in mountain area until Nov. 2
Crowds on the Helen Festhalle’s dance floor cheer as the band The Sauerkrauts perform “The Chicken Dance” during Oktoberfest in 2012.


When: 6-10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 1-7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Helen Festhalle, 1074 Edelweiss Strasse, Helen

Cost: $8 Monday through Friday, $10 Saturdays and free Sundays

More info: or 706-878-1619

Ever wanted to go to Germany? For the next month, it’s possible to do just that without having to cross the ocean.

The city of Helen is in the middle of its 44th annual Oktoberfest, which lasts until Nov. 2 in the Northeast Georgia mountains.

The German-style festivities feature Bavarian music, food and lots of beer. And tradition animates the town as if it were Munich, Germany, said Renee Chacon, executive director of the Helen Chamber of Commerce.

“Tradition-wise it is the same (as Munich’s Oktoberfest),” she said, but she noted Helen’s event lasts longer. “It’s still the longest Oktoberfest in the world.”

Last year, the town boasted a six-week celebration. This year, it will be 51 days, 34 more days than Munich’s.

Oktoberfest’s hours in the small town in White County lasts from 6-10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 1-7 p.m. Sunday.

ABC News reported Helen to have the fifth best Oktoberfest in the United States, claiming “it’s easy to get into the German spirit in Helen.”

Jimmy Horzen, an accordionist from Florida, has performed “at hundreds, if not thousands, of Oktoberfests around the country” but returns to Helen almost every year.

“The difference in Helen is that the Alpine setting is permanent ... year-round,” he said “These are buildings, not tents; the mountains are real, not painted on plywood; and there is nothing like the Southern charm of the people.”

This is the performer’s 20th year at Helen, performing first in 1986. Including Horzen, 13 other performers take the stage in the Helen Festhalle at 1074 Edelweiss Strasse in Helen.

“The music is 90 percent Bavarian, 10 percent other,” Chacon said, noting the bands come from places all around the nation, including New York, Florida and Texas.

“Helen Oktoberfest has become a reunion destination for so many people,” Horzen said. “Friendships begin at the Festhalle and are renewed every year.”

Horzen also encourages people to come out and celebrate.

“It is so much fun to see everyone raising their drinks and singing the traditional Oktoberfest toast, ‘Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit,’ (a toast to Gemütlichkeit), linking arms and swaying left to right at their tables (known as schunkeling), then heading to the dance floor for a lively Oktoberfest polka, or chicken dance, or flying song.”

For more information about Oktoberfest in Helen, visit or call the Alpine Helen Chamber of Commerce at 706-878-1619.

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