From beer to music and food, this year’s Oktoberfest in Helen will give attendees a German experience almost better than the country itself offers.
“We get the ultimate compliment — somebody from Germany visiting here during our Oktoberfest and saying they can’t even get this at home anymore,” said Renee Green, executive director of the Helen Chamber of Commerce.
The Alpine village will host the 48th annual event at the Helen Festhalle several weekends in September and throughout the month of October.
When: Sept. 6-9, Sept. 13-16, Sept. 20-23 and Sept. 27 through Oct. 28
Where: Helen Festhalle, 1074 Edelweiss Strasse, Helen
How much: $8 Monday through Friday, $10 Saturdays and free SundaysMore info: www.helenchamber.com
It will officially kick off at noon Sept. 8 with a parade in downtown Helen, which will include traditional German bands like Goldne Volksmusik Sterne and Johnny Koenig.
“They could be playing a 200-year-old classic German song or a crowd favorite, ‘Sweet Caroline,’” Green said.
There will also be a “ceremonial tapping of the keg” at the Festhalle.
“(It) is actually a wooden keg from Germany,” she said.
The festival easily draws in 200,000 visitors every year, all there to enjoy dancing, pretzels, beer and brats.
“We get them from all across the United States, from north to south to east to west and a lot of Europeans as well,” she said about the guests.
Set in the bavarian-style town in North Georgia, the Oktoberfest celebration is “very traditional.” “So German bands, German music, German dancing, German beer (and) German food,” Green said.
Keeping with tradition also explains why Helen’s Oktoberfest is so long.
“Actually in Germany, it is celebrated in September,” she said. “It’s a celebration of the wedding of King Ludwig.”
The city wanted to host the event when Germany does but decided to extend the celebration through October to match the festival’s name, making it the longest Oktoberfest in the world.
She said the guests all come to enjoy the music, fun and camaraderie the extended event offers.
“Come without a passport necessary (and) no expensive plane ticket to Europe and enjoy a traditional Oktoberfest,” Green said.