Raise a Stein at Long Beach Oktoberfest
By John Grossi
Bavarian beers, bratwurst, potato salad, traditional dancing, stein holding competitions, das boot, a live show and much more! Long Beach’s Oktoberfest is the place to be if you’re looking for fun this Fall.
Now in its second year, Oktoberfest hosted in the Scottish Rite Cathedral parking lot near Downtown Long Beach has already become the biggest and best in LA County. Key to that success is its outstanding entertainment offerings.
Long Beach Carries the Alpine Village Torch!
Oktoberfest diehards may know the SoCal legend “Festmeister Hans” and his band “die Sauerkrauts” who rocked the house for 10 years at the former go-to Oktoberfest celebration at Alpine Village in Torrance. An annual pinnacle of cultural fun and entertainment, Festmeister Hans put on a great show filled with laugh-provoking antics and rousing music.
Alas, Alpine Village shut their doors during the COVID pandemic. However, that closure opened a window in Long Beach. Local entrepreneurs Jim Ritson, Brett Gallo, and Erick Verduzco (partners at the Bamboo Club) not only saw an opportunity to bring Oktoberfest to town, but also appreciated the need for Festmeister Hans’ entertainment to be accessible to the regional Los Angeles and Orange county communities.
“We feel Long Beach is the natural entertainment grounds for any celebration accessible to all of Southern California,” says Brett Gallo.
And last year, people came flocking into Long Beach from all over Southern California to enjoy the inaugural event. Thanks to the popularity of Oktoberfest at the former Alpine Village, and the roaring success of last year’s event, the Long Beach Oktoberfest this year will take place over the course of nine days and three consecutive weekends: September 23, 24, 25; September 30, October 1, 2; and October 7, 8, 9!
Immerse Yourself in Bavarian Culture
In addition to food, games and fun, each day includes a five-hour set from “Festmeister Hans und die Sauerkrauts” with music, games, fun, and jokes galore.
“It’s an immersive festival… once you’ve been there for 30 minutes you’re going to be completely lost in this celebration of Bavarian culture,” says co-founder Jim Ritson. It’s totally family friendly too… when about halfway through the performance they’ll start up the chicken dance where everyone stands and tries to keep up with the dance as the tempo builds. It’s a ton of fun.”
Festmeister Hans is a native of Bavaria, Germany, and has deep roots tied to the Oktoberfest celebration. In fact, his great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather (phew) was actually a big part of the first ever Oktoberfest in 1810, and won the inaugural horse race!
The show brings an eclectic mix of Festmeister Hans’ storytelling, traditional German polka music, group competitions and games, modern pop music, humor, and lots of fun German-themed cover songs you never thought you’d hear, like “Alpine Funk” instead of “Uptown Funk,” and “Pour Some Lager On Me,” instead of “Pour Some Sugar On Me!”
The die Sauerkrauts band includes eight talented musicians, many of whom bring multiple instruments to the show. The group also features traditional dancers and, of course, Festmeister Hans, whose main instrument is to “play the audience.”
A True Sense of Gemütlichkeit
As families and friends enjoy cold beer, great food, and fun and games under the tent, the real goal of the evening is for the entertainment to introduce thousands of Southern Californians to the German concept of gemütlichkeit.
“Gemütlichkeit doesn’t have a direct translation in English but the word togetherness is close,” explains Festmeister Hans. “It’s a specific type of togetherness where you feel welcome, connected, and wonderful, and like, you’re in the perfect place to be! When our show has the right gemütlichkeit you can turn left or right, say “Prost!” and you are all friends. There is a perfect sense of community, happiness, and comfort.”
Festmeister Hans finds great joy in entertaining an incredibly diverse crowd and adding in pieces of his German heritage to the mix. While crowds of all types and ages enjoy the Oktoberfest shows, Friday and Saturday night performances are slightly better geared to an adult-themed show while Sunday is perfect for families, kids, and grandparents.
If you’ve never been to an Oktoberfest, you can certainly expect to see the regulars showing up in lederhosen and dirndl dresses and even bringing their own stein cups. But don’t worry… most of the crowd will be dressed in California-casual and buy stein glasses at the event, or just drink from the free plastic cups!
Adding to This Year’s Tradition
While Long Beach Oktoberfest is a separate entity from the founders’ other project (The Bamboo Club and Tiki Bar on Anaheim Street), the fest does have access to the incredible chefs and bartenders who have made the Bamboo Club so popular. Henceforth, expect fun German-themed cocktails available at this year’s event PLUS a few more modern food offerings including vegan bratwurst, all with a German flair.
This year’s event will also have more vintage carnival games and other focused fun for kids to enjoy while their parents soak up the adult fun and entertainment.
While rideshare is encouraged, this year’s event will also have limited parking on site. So arrive early!
For more information or to buy tickets, head to www.lboktoberfest.com. While this will be a big event, there is still limited capacity so buying tickets ahead of time is encouraged!