It’s time to pull on the lederhosen, lace up the dirndl and throw back a pint, because Oktoberfest season is just around the corner.
According to census data, more than 40 million Americans claim German ancestry — that’s roughly 16% of the U.S. population. And, while there aren’t any hard statistics on the subject, it’s safe to bet that at least a few million Americans also just love a good beer. Maybe that’s why the United States is the country ranked fourth for the most Oktoberfest celebrations, with Germany obviously taking first place.
For many, when Oktoberfest is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is beer. But in Arizona, it’s also a celebration of the turn of the season. It’s the first peek of fall and one of the best times to enjoy the outdoors, which is one reason why so many cities across the state opt to participate in the traditional Bavarian holiday. Here are a few of the Oktoberfest events happening across the state this year.
Downtown Chandler Oktoberfest
For the first time, Pedal Haus Brewery and SanTan Brewing Company are joining together to host an epic Oktoberfest event in Downtown Chandler Saturday, October 1. Julian Wright, CEO and founder of Pedal Haus Brewery, says both of the Downtown Chandler companies decided to collaborate instead of competing.
The Downtown Chandler Oktoberfest will feature beer and food from both SanTan and Pedal Haus breweries plus canned craft cocktails. The breweries will serve a range of beers including German-style Oktoberfests. German fare, including Bavarian-style soft pretzels and brats, will be served.
In addition to the food and drinks, there will be a variety of classic Oktoberfest games and contests, including stein holding, wiener toss and sausage eating contests. And, in keeping with the theme, a full lineup of live music is scheduled, including a German polka band.
“We are stoked to be joining forces with our friends at SanTan to throw one of the best Oktoberfest events in the Valley this year,” Wright says. “I’ll be emceeing the stein holding and sausage-eating competitions, so grab your friends and lederhosen. This is going to be a fun event.”
Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, 3 S. Arizona Avenue, Chandler, 480.656.1639, pedalhausbrewery.com, 3 to 11 p.m., $15-$25
Litchfield Park Oktoberfest at The Wigwam
In partnership with the city of Litchfield Park, The Wigwam is celebrating Oktoberfest with live music, lawn games, German-inspired cuisine and, of course, beer. Those who preorder tickets through Eventbrite will receive a commemorative Oktoberfest glass. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. This event is for ages 21 and older.
The Wigwam Front Lawn, 300 E. Wigwam Boulevard, Litchfield Park, 866.976.6894, wigwamarizona.com/events, 6 to 9 p.m., ticket price TBD
At the Wickenburg Oktoberfest, attendees can enjoy historic Stone Park, sample beers from more than 15 Arizona breweries, and munch on food from German food trucks. There will also be live music and lawn games to keep the crowd entertained.
The event is organized by and is a fundraiser for the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with independent brewers to promote the virtues and raise the profile of the state’s locally crafted beers. Rob Fullmer, executive director of the guild, says the Oktoberfest season is a great exposure and business for breweries, which is why he wanted to do an event in a smaller market. He says Wickenburg is about halfway in between Tempe and Prescott, so the festival draws in a good variety of brewers.
Admission to the Wickenburg Oktoberfest comes with 15 tasting tickets. One ticket can be handed in to the brewery of choice for a 4-ounce beer tasting.
Stone Park, 164 E. Apache Street, Wickenburg, wickenburgoktoberfest.com, 3 to 8 p.m., $40-$60
Flagstaff will host its 13th annual Oktoberfest this year, complete with drinks, food, live music, contests and even bounce houses for the kids. Beer will be aplenty, as will other typical Oktoberfest eats such as pretzels and bratwurst.
Beer may take the center stage, but Jennifer Grogan, event producer, says the contests are “hilarious,” which is why a side stage is set up for five events throughout the day.
First up is the wiener man race, where people put on hot dog costumes and race to navigate through an obstacle course. New this year is the chicken dance contest. There is also a brat-eating contest, which Grogan says is both a “fan favorite and absolutely disgusting.” Then there is the traditional Bavarian stein contest for men and women, separately. In this contest, participants hold a liter of beer in a heavy-duty glass with their arms in front of them.
The last competition of the day is the frozen T-shirt contest. Grogan says T-shirts are folded, tied and frozen, and teams of two compete to try to be the first to get the shirt undone and on a body. She adds that, because this is the last competition of the day, participants are usually “feeling the alcohol … so it’s pretty funny.”
A percentage of all alcohol sales will benefit the Flagstaff Alpine Ski and Snowboard team, specifically its scholarship programs for families who can’t afford the sport.
Wheeler Park, 212 W. Aspen Avenue, Flagstaff, 928.606.7600, flagstaffoktoberfest.com, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., $5-$7, kids under 12 free
FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS THROUGHOUT OCTOBER
Haus Murphy is a German restaurant that offers beer, brats, pretzels and Polka year-round. But during October, it ramps up.
Guests can enjoy seasonal imported German beer specifically brewed for this time in Germany while sitting back in the biergarten listening to live Polka music.
The restaurant has been serving German food for 26 years, so while the Oktoberfest fan favorites of soft pretzels and bratwursts are available, there is a whole menu of authentic German cuisine to try.
Limited seating is available, and spots tend to fill up fast, so advance reservations are strongly recommended.
Haus Murphy’s, 5739 W. Glendale Avenue, Glendale, 623.939.2480, hausmurphys.com, 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays throughout October
Four Peaks Oktoberfest
OCTOBER 7 TO OCTOBER 9
The Four Peak Oktoberfest in Tempe is the largest in the state, drawing 75,000 to 100,000 people over the three-day period. This is the 49th year the Four Peaks Oktoberfest has been held, and the first year back after a three-year pandemic-dictated break, according to Paul Sheard, co-event organizer.
“We have a lot of fun with this event … and we’re excited to see everybody again,” he says.
To celebrate its return, the festival will feature its typical Bavarian-themed food, drinks, games and music, along with new attractions.
Sheard says food is provided by Denmark Foods, with the featured menu item being a Kilt Lifter brat in partnership with Four Peaks. New this year, there will also be vegetarian empanadas. And, while there will be beer ranging from a lager to a pumpkin porter, it will also sell wine and canned cocktails.
As for entertainment, there’s no shortage of that either. The festival has a carnival with 15 to 20 rides and games. Live music will be played each night, including a performance from a German polka band. There will also be classic Oktoberfest competitions, such as stein holding, brat eating, a wiener dog race and a wiener dog fashion show — which features dog and owner in costume.
Four Peaks Oktoberfest is produced by and was started by the nonprofit organization Tempe Sister Cities as a fundraiser. Proceeds from the event help send Tempe high school students to 10 of Tempe’s sister cities.
Friday, October 7
-Happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m.; $1 off all beers, wine and cocktails.
-Opening ceremonies: horse-drawn carriage and classic VW parade
-Music headliners: Authority Zero and Wyves
Saturday, October 8
-AZTV7 Das 29th Oktoberfest Runnin’ for the Brats
-Celebrity brat-eating contest
-Tailgate and ASU watch party-Washington @ Sun Devil Stadium
-Four Peaks Party Lounge
-Weiner dog fashion show/races
-Music headliners: The Black Moods and 2 Tone Lizard Kings
Sunday, October 9
-Arizona Lucky Dog Invitational
-USSHA-sanctioned stein-holding contest
-NFL screening-Eagles @ Big Red
-Weiner dog races
-Reverse happy hour: 6 to 8 p.m.; $1 off draft beer
-Music headliners: Voyager and Superhero
Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 602.625.3493, fourpeaksoktoberfest.com, various times Friday, October 7, to Sunday, October 9, $20, Sunday free
Red Rocks Oktoberfest
In its eighth year, the Red Rocks Oktoberfest in Sedona features craft breweries from the area, food trucks and live music. This event is produced by and benefits the Rotary Club of Sedona Red Rocks to support youth-oriented projects and programs.
Donna Hawk, treasurer and executive secretary for the Rotary Club, says Oktoberfest is a great event that typically draws in about 1,000 people. This year, she says there will be about 10 breweries and eight food trucks participating. Food ranges from traditional German cuisine to barbecue and desserts.
There will also be live music performed by Polka Katzin, a traditional German “oompah” band, as Hawk put it, and rock’s Well Dressed Wolves.
Admission includes a festival cup and two drink tokens, which can be used for samples. Additional tokens can be purchased. Minors can attend for free, as long as they are accompanied by a ticketed adult.
Posse Grounds Park, 550 Posse Grounds Road, Sedona, redrocksoktoberfest.com, 3 to 8 p.m., $25-$30
In its third year, the Gilbert Oktoberfest is ramping things up “100%,” according to event director Mike O’Donnell. He says there will be more beer, more food and more entertainment.
The event is teaming with breweries in the East Valley, which will create something completely new.
“They’re creating a collaborative beer for this event, where each one of the brewmasters has been sitting together and they all come up with their own recipe,” O’Donnell says. “We will have that available at every outlet at the event, and it will only be available there at the event.”
The event also features the self-proclaimed Queen of Oktoberfest and her band, the Oktoburlesques. They perform traditional polka blended with today’s hits.
In true Oktoberfest spirit, there will also be a brat eating contest and stein holding contest. There’s also a kids zone, and children can enter for free.
Gilbert Regional Park, 3005 E. Queen Creek Road, Gilbert, gilbertoktoberfest.com, 2 to 9 p.m., ticket price TBD