Oktoberfest is the largest “People’s Festival” on the planet. The festival was originally created to celebrate the marriage of Germany’s King Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, in Munich more than two centuries ago. All citizens were invited to celebrate with the royal family on the fields in front of the city gates.
There was a parade, music & dancing, horse races, wine and beer tasting, bowling, games, and of course, mouth-watering food. Outside of good excuses – battling with Napoleon’s troops, a Cholera epidemic, and a few wars – the festival would take place each year with various activities being added or removed.
The two-week long festival would continue to grow in popularity and any non-German nationals that were fortunate enough to be in the country during the festival would, of course, partake in the celebration. Clearly, this left an indelible impression – one powerful enough to adopt the idea for the nations that these folks returned to.
Today, Oktoberfest is celebrated in scores of countries – complete with the Polka music, bratwurst, and of course, beer. Since America’s largest ancestral group is German, it should come as no surprise that Oktoberfest took root as a popular excuse to drink, dance and have fun.
On the South Coast, there’s no bigger and better version of Oktoberfest than New Bedford’s own, NBOktoberfest. Organized by the South Coast Business Alliance, the festival is now on its 10th year and has become one of the city’s most popular annual events.
What makes Oktoberfest an even more special one, is that the South Coast Business Alliance also pairs each event with charitable organizations by donating part of its proceeds – which will surpass $500,000 with this year’s event. Since its inception, they have focused their efforts on at-risk youth programming and various other organizations around the South Coast. Most recently they started the SCBA UMass-Dartmouth Scholarship Fund which provides a scholarship to one graduating senior with demonstrated financial need.
Additionally, they have donated over $15,000 to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Bristol County, supported organizations like Star Kids, the Zeiterion Theater, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater New Bedford, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and many more. Several of their members have also received the South Coast Emerging 5 Award awarded each year to five recipients under 40 for their contributions and support within the community, including the President Christian Farland, one of the Founders/Board Members Jason Lanagan, and Nick Francis, Board Member & Chairman of the New Bedford Oktoberfest.
So, simply by attending the event you not only have a complete, total blast, but you can feel good that you contributed to a local charity, and benefited the community in some way. Wunderbar!
If you are a regular attendee, you may want to know what is still happening, what’s been taken away and if there is anything new. If you have never been, you’ll want to know what to expect. Read on, mein guter Kumpel.
Die Kost (FOOD!)
One of life’s most hedonistic treats is to walk about a festival and enjoy all the wonderful aromas emanating from food being prepared. The wafting smells of various types of fare are a complete assault on the nose….and what fun it is to navigate from food truck, to stand, to tent. Eat, dance, relax and even people watch.
This year most vendors that you enjoyed in the past, will be returning. Everyone’s local favorite, No Problemo, will be providing their regular burritos, tacos, tostadas, tortas and more. For the special occasion they will be making “Wurst Ques,” or bratwurst quesadilla.
Only one place to get something like that locally, and only one time per year. It’s worth visiting Oktoberfest just for that!
Oxford Creamery will attend with their Oxcart – a traveling cart of foodie happiness that is often at events downtown, especially the state pier. They will be offering hot dogs, their popular lobster rolls, french fries, hamburgers, grilled cheese, homemade coleslaw and more.
FanCheezical Food Truck is a food truck out of Providence that serves grilled cheese sandwiches and sides. There’s the Old Skool “like mom used to make,” a BBQ 2.0: house smoked pulled pork w/ homemade BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese, the #19: Prosciutto, arugula and apricot spread w/ cheddar cheese, the Bay of Pigs: bacon, ham, pulled pork, cheddar cheese and special Cuban sauce and others. Sides include homemade Tomato Bisque, Corn in a cup with Cojito cheese and cilantro, Aurora’s Salad which contains watermelon, tomatoes, basil and feta and a few others.
Doesn’t that sound schmecklich? Doch!
A local icon, Ma Raffa’s will also be present, offering everyone’s favorite thin crust pizza, antipastos, and Italian favorites. Cool Lick’s Concessions will cool everyone down with their homemade ice cream and lemonade, like they have been doing for almost two decades. In addition, they will also be selling popular concession foods like cacoila and hot dogs.
Providing the vibe and atmosphere will be some of the best local musical acts. Headlining the event is Chadwick Stokes & Friends (of State Radio & Dispatch), whose lyrics revolve around contemporary social issues and change. Refusing to be pigeon-holed into a category of music, he lists his influences as widely varied as Credence Clearwater Revival, Jethro Tull, Traffic, Woody Guthrie, The Clash and Rage Against The Machine. You’ll have to figure out his style after you listen to his talent.
You may recall the song “Born Normal” which was featured in the film “The Boondock Saints,” which was written while he was with Dispatch or the State Radio song “Keepsake” which was used in Showtime’s dark comedy “Weeds.” Or perhaps you have heard of him outside of his musical work, in one of his many human rights activities – various funds, non-profit charity organizations, or the Dispatch Foundation. If you want to get an idea, his music and videos can be found easily online.
Opening for Chadwick will be two huge local favorites, Rebecca Correia and the Craig DeMelo Super Band. Rebecca Correia is a singer-songwriter who spends her time going back and forth between Nashiville, Tennesse and her home in Rochester, MA. In spite of her young age, she has written well over 200 songs, including co-writing the song “So Long Goodbye” with three-time Grammy-winner Keb’ Mo’.
Craig DeMelo has been a local fixture since 2002, making his name for his massive repertoire of covers, before showcasing his true talent and creativity with his own original music, on his 12-track, The Whiskey Poet. He has opened for the likes of Hootie and the Blowfish, Matchbox 20, Howie Day, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If you’ve been out and about anywhere on the South Coast, chances are you’ve seen Craig play…and likely you are friends with him. This year Craig will be assisted by the talented “Super Band” and they will be playing a mixture of covers and originals.
Kicking off the whole event will be the Celtic-Folk-Acoustic Punk band, The Pourmen who describe what they do as “Songs from the Cobblestone Streets and Salty Pubs of the Whaling City.” The Pourmen are from right here in New Bedford and the six-piece band is made up of members Tommy McFly (Bass), Alex Platt (Guitars), Mike Bobrowiecki (Drums), Rick Bennett (Tenor Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals), John Curtin (Tin Whistle, Mandolin), Luke Sivertson (Fiddle). There is no better way to get the show started than with these guys who are known for their high-energy.
No Oktoberfest, anywhere on the planet, is complete without beer. There will be over 50 beers present this year and 35 of them will be regional, including Buzzards Bay Brewery, Cisco Brewers, Mayflower, Narragansett, Troeg’s, Brooklyn, FoolProof and many more. This is double the variety of beers that last year had, and this year gluten free beer, ciders and sangria have been added to the menu. Chances are your favorite will be there and the only difficulty will be which beer to pair with your pizza, hot dog, hamburger or Wurst Ques.” The first-world struggle is real!
My biggest suggestion is to grab a beer sampler card: 5 beers for $10. The first 600 people to purchase a sampler card get an NBOktoberfest signature sampler cup. What more can be said about beer? Does one have to “sell” the concept? If you think the devil is in the details, then you can wait for our 10th Annual Oktoberfest Beer Guide coming out in a few days, written by Matthew Neumann. You can totally trust him – just look at that GERMAN last name.
The State Pier is an ideal spot for Oktoberfest. The time of year is perfect for mild weather – the sun is still high enough in the sky, the mornings are cool and the days are warm, but not hot. There is never an issue with rain, since most of what happens at Oktoberfest takes place indoors. There will be a Corn Hole game for those who wish for a little extra-curricular activity. If you are looking for a fun night out with the pals or gals, or perhaps just that special someone, this October 3rd will be the night to set aside – mark those calendars because it is an event you won’t want to miss out on!
If you are interested in purchasing tickets, you can do so at scballiance.org/oktoberfest-tickets/. So, grab your Krug (or as the Dummköpfen say “Steins”) and let out a cry of “Zum Pröst!!”
When: Saturday, Oktober 3, 2015 from 3:00pm-11:45pm
Where: State Pier Ferry Terminal/49 State Pier