Let's see, I love October, dancing, food, and beer, so when I wanted to create an episode that encapsulated a fall adventure, finding a local Oktoberfest seemed a winning choice. I didn't expect to have one of the USA Today's Top 10 American Oktoberfest's so close! Three years ago I found a local Oktoberfest and was surprised to find it was one store, one small pub, and about three people on a Friday night with a cd of polka music playing, so my expectations of an American replica of the festival were pretty low. To say Alpine Village blew me away would be an understatement! Alpine Village is in Torrance, California, which is about 20 minutes south of Los Angeles. The Steinhaus Tavern at the village was built by European immigrants over 50 years ago and serves craft beers and homemade sausages year-round. There is also a German Market that is open year-round with a butcher, bakery, and other imported items. They have special festivals at Easter and Christmas as well as different beer fests (that I will surely be attending after this experience) but it's their Oktoberfest that won me over! 50 people ban together to build the 32,000 sq.ft. tent in the parking lot of Alpine Village to accommodate the 60,000+ people that come to Oktoberfest each year; and man is it worth it!
Little history on Oktoberfest...it's a 16-day German beer festival that is the largest in the world. It takes place in the middle of September and leads up to the first Sunday in October. Bonus points for Alpine Village...they celebrate from September 11th all the way to OctoberBeast on October 31st! The German festival is known for it's traditional German food, beer, and music. Alpine Village does an amazing job at recreating that with over 1 ton of sausage made each week on top of the weekly 10,000lbs. they already do year-round!!! They also go through around 4,000 kegs of German and American craft beers during the season and fly in two 12-piece Oom-Pah bands directly from Germany!
Oom-Pah music is a combination of Polka and Waltz music that is traditional to German Oktoberfest. Over the years, pop music and even American classic rock have made their way to the festival. Alpine Village combines both genres as well, starting with the conventional Oom-Pah tunes and incorporating more current music as the night goes on. Speaking of the night going on, while the main tent closes at midnight Friday and Saturday nights, the Steinhaus stays rocking until 2am.
But Oktoberfest isn't just all partying and beer, Sunday is Family Day from 1-6pm. The first 50 kids get a free hot dog, there's a parade with the Oom-Pah band, crafts, and face painting, and of course the chicken dance; which is done nearly 100 times during the season by adults and kids of all ages. Alpine Village also raises approximately $50,000 for some amazing charities like Aids Walk LA, American Cancer Society, and more! So not only is it a super fun place to come but also does a lot of good for the community.
I just happen to have an old beer maid costume lying around so I got all gussied up for the festival and jumped right in! So many delicious food and drink options! I went with the spicy chicken sausage, tater tots, and pumpkin cider and was not disappointed. The giant eclairs also looked divine! After fueling up, I hit the dance floor. We were taught a basic partner dance and spun around to the Oom-Pah music. It felt like a giant wedding full of super fun strangers! Everyone just threw themselves in! Seeing 50 or so women of all ages doing the chicken dance in LA, not caring about what anyone thought, was incredible! Everyone was in great spirits, the employees were dressed up and having a blast, and the Oom-Pah bands were table dancing while playing instruments! What's not to love?!? There were beer drinking contests, Stein holding contests, Choking-the-chicken contests (don't ask) and even yodeling lessons.
I find it rare to see this many adults letting their inhibitions go and having the time of their lives. I wasn't sure if I would feel a little TOO enthusiastic showing up in full costume but everyone seemed to embrace the festival, the culture, and the fun! There was always something going on so it wasn't a typical "bar" atmosphere. I can't sing enough praises to Alpine Village who's in their 48th year of putting on Oktoberfest and for one night, showing us all how fun it is to be "German".
Check out www.alpineoktoberfest.com for all of the information and watch the entire Autumn Adventure below!
WHAT TO KNOW:
Where: Torrance, CA about 20 minutes south of Los Angeles off I10
Dates: September 11th-October 31st Friday-Sunday
Times: Friday 6pm-midnight (2am in the Steinhaus) 21+
Saturday 5pm-midnight (2am in the Steinhaus) 21+
Sunday (Family day) 1pm-6pm
Tickets: Friday $20 General Admission ($15 Oct. 30th) $70 Dine/Stein/No Line ($65 Oct. 30th)
Saturday $25 General Admission ($15 Oct. 31st) $75 Dine/Stein/No Line ($65 Oct. 31st)
Sunday $6 General Admission
*For more details see their website www.alpineoktoberfest.com