September is season for Oktoberfests in SWPA
Beer, sausage, giant pretzels, music and dancing – oom pah pah! September is for Oktoberfest. Originating in Germany as a wedding celebration between Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the royal event. The fields were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s Meadow”) in honor of the Crown Princess. As part of the tradition and celebration, horse races, in the tradition of the 15th century Scharlachrennen (Scarlet Race at Karlstor), were held on October 17th to honor the newlyweds. The precise origins of the festival and horse races remain a matter of controversy, however, the decision to repeat the horse races, spectacle, and celebrations in 1811 launched what is now the annual Oktoberfest tradition.
The world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair) is held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a 16-day folk festival running from mid-September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is often called the Wiesn, after the colloquial name for the previously mentioned fairgrounds (Theresienwiese). The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810.
Here in Pennsylvania, Oktoberfest celebrations are modelled after the original Munich event. Considering the large number of German immigrants to Pennsylvania from 1683 – 1776, the ancestry continues to celebrate the event. In Southwest Pennsylvania, there are three major Oktoberfest celebrations:
Pennsylvania Bavarian Oktoberfest – Canonsburg, PA – September 16-18
The 18th annual event in Downtown Canonsburg with free admission. Tens of thousands attend every year and it is the largest in Pennsylvania. The event will have German food, beer, live music, Name the Brew contest and Carnival with games and amusement rides. Ride All Day amusement passes are available. Vendors setup along Pike Street. On the two stages for music and dancing performances, you’ll see SNPJ Button Box, Alpen Schuhplattler, Frank Paolombi Band, Augsburg Band, the Bill Ali Band, Ruff Creek, Kenny Blake Trio, Steeltown Band, Dancing Queen, Joel Lindsey and Sugarcane. It runs Friday from 4 PM to 11 PM, Saturday from 11 AM to 11 PM, and Sunday from noon to 6 PM. Pets are not permitted in the festival area. In the past, there has been free parking and a free shuttle service from the Pennsylvania Transformer Technologies lot at 30 Curry Avenue because there is no designated parking for the event within the downtown area.
Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh Oktoberfest – Pittsburgh, PA – September 16-17 & 23-24.
Two weekends of German fun at the Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest at the Southside Works in Pittsburgh. Imported Munich Oktoberfest bier, entertainment, and prizes. Hofbrauhaus was started in Germany at the request of Wilhelm V, the Duke of Bavaria. The brewery provided food and drink at the wedding celebration in 1810. The Pittsburgh location was the third opened in America – behind the Cincinnati/NKY region and Las Vegas. It opened in 2009 in the Southside Works. Hofbrauhaus is located at 2705 South Water Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203.
Sewickley Oktoberfest – Sewickley, PA – Sept 30 – Oct 1
The annual Sewickley Oktoberfest with Spaten beer and live music. German food includes bratwurst, kielbasa, and pulled pork sandwiches, potato pancakes, pretzel knots and more! This is a cash only event. Chicken dancing and contests at the Saturday (day) session. Adults are $10. Ages 13-20 are $5 to the Saturday day session (kids 12 and under free). Friday and Saturday night sessions are ages 21 and up only. All access pass to all three sessions is $20. VIP Package to one session is $30. Sewickley is located west of Pittsburgh and the precise location is 437 Broad Street Sewickley, PA 15143.
Story by Fred Terling for Pennsylvania Bridges