Ein Prosit! Your Guide to Oktoberfest

(Image credit: @floridadonny)

Oktoberfest is an annual festival in Munich, Germany, held over a 2-week period in September and ending on the first Sunday in October. 

The festival’s origins can be traced back to October 12, 1810, in celebration of a marriage between the Crown Prince of Bavaria (who became King Louis I) to Princes Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.  Royal weddings have always been over the top, and this festival concluded with a horse race.  In 1811, the horse race was combined with a state agricultural fair.  In 1818, booths serving food and drinks were introduced.

By the late 20th century, the food and drink booths had morphed into large beer halls complete with balconies and bandstands.  Each brewery in Munich erects a temporary structure, which can seat up to 6,000.  The festival in 2022 starts on September 17 and runs through October 1 in Munich. 

In Georgia, Helen’s Oktoberfest (one of the oldest in the nation) starts September 29th and runs through October 30th.  These celebrations, which feature beer and German food, try to reproduce the Bavarian sense of gemutlichkeit (cordiality).

The celebration is open to all ages.  Admission is $8 during the week and $10 on Saturdays (free admission on Sundays!).  Doors open at 6 pm throughout the week, and 1 pm on weekends.

You can plan to stay in Helen at The Heidi Motel or, if you’re planning on going with a group of friends or family, rent a cabin at nearby Unicoi State Park and work a short hike into your itinerary.

Start your food adventure with Hofer’s of Helen for Reuben sandwiches, made by Germans who immigrated to the town in the 1950s.  The Heidelberg German Restaurant and Hofbrauhaus are other options.  Please drink responsibly, and have a designated driver in your group.

There are other options for Oktoberfest in Georgia, including Oktoberfest Atlanta on September 30th as well as Gainesville’s first annual Oktoberfest at Smithgall Arts Center on October 1st.

Vickery Creek Trail on a lazy Sunday afternoon

On a cloudy Sunday, two of my friends and I met at Old Mill Park for an afternoon hike.  It turned into one of the best days since this pandemic started. 

Old Mill Park is located off GA 400 in Roswell, Georgia, about 20-30 minutes from Atlanta.  The photo above is of the pedestrian bridge that connects the 4.7 mile trail to the ruins of the old Roswell Manufacturing Company Mills.  It’s a very popular spot for photographers; we saw a few senior class photos, some engagement shoots and family portraits, and a bride in her wedding gown this afternoon.

Part of the area near the pedestrian bridge is paved, and is a haven for families and dog walkers.  There’s also a Little Free Library there, so feel free donate any used books that you want to part with.  The spillway near the Roswell dam was open, and water gushed into Vickery Creek, creating brownish-colored rapids and some waterfalls.  The paved walking area also features remnants of the old millworks, which are surprisingly well preserved.  

The hike in the woods was relatively uneventful. My friend had some retractable walking/hiking poles, which are recommended since the trail is relatively flat but does have some wooden and rocky areas the further you do into the forest.  Fall color was barely touching the trees; some gold and red, but mostly green for now.  I’d also recommend a decent pair of hiking boots or sneakers, like the ones Adidas makes.  Sneakers will work, but the Georgian red clay that covers the forest floor was slippery.

We did see a white-tailed deer and other hikers with dogs, as well as a trail runner.  We also sang Broadway show tunes, thanks to my friend’s playlist.  After we completed 3.5 miles, we decided to head back to our cars and look for food. We discovered a great little Cuban restaurant called Lazaro’s Cuban Cuisine and were entertained by our waitress, Barbara.  She was really friendly and funny; we had a fried yucca appetizer and Bohemia beer along with water.  They have indoor and outdoor seating, which helped since I had brought my husky, Emma, with me on the hike.  

The food was amazing.  I had a spicy shrimp creole dish with a tomato-based sauce along with plantains and black beans and rice.  We had flan, guava pastries, and tres leches cake for dessert.  All in all, for a day that I could have spent indoors with Netflix or books, it was great to get outside and enjoy spending time with my friends and with nature.