The first month of Big Bear’s annual fall festival held eight weekends at the Convention Center Sept. 9-October 28 is as busy as the second. In addition to the opening American Heroes weekend featuring longtime favorites The Express Band, September features German groups Mats’s Infinity plus Goldeisen Band. Plus the popular GTEV D”Oberlander Dancers.
It’s easy to make a case to call Oktoberfest Septemberfest. Prices are lower, crowds less, the days still warm and nights not chilly. Plus it’s the first chance to check out the new Food Court with street tacos, sweet shoppe with cupcakes and old-fashioned candy, and more.
The 47th version of one of the nation’s top Oktoberfests gets underway Sept. 9-10 with the annual tribute to American heroes. All active and retired military, police, fire and emergency personnel along with their families get in for free with proper ID and there’s an All-American patriotic salute to the troops. Bear Valley Marine Corp color guard presents the colors, there’s dancing by the children’s group Kleinen Bar Tanzer, and the official tapping of the first keg.
The Express Band is the logical choice to kick off Big Bear Oktoberfest, ranked in the Top 10 nationwide by AOL, Ski Net and most recently USA Today. Southern California’s premiere German festival band, The Express has entertained listeners for some 30 years and this is its only Oktoberfest 2017 date. During the afternoon the sound is more polka, after dark more Top 40, country and rock and roll with a few band specialties thrown in.
The first German band at this year’s Oktoberfest sees Matthias Kremer of Aalbachtal Express, which plays two October weekends, with his own band, Mats’s Infinity. Composed of members of the popular German band The Beat Boys, Mats’s Infinity plays the second and third weekends Sept. 16-17 and 23-24.
Next up is Goldeisen Band, an Oktoberfest favorite three years ago and returning with an expanded lineup on Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 6-8. Like double! The band sports nine musicians when it takes the stage for a mix of German standards and American favorites.
The band’s foundation is four brothers who play German rock with a folk music twist. Goldeisen is wildly popular at Oktoberfests along with apres ski in Bavarian lodges. The band drew international acclaim in 2012 with its hit song “Pepperoni” which will be on the Big Bear playlist and in 2013 had two songs nominated for the Best Oktoberfest Hits CD produced annually by the famous Munich Oktoberfest.
The outdoor stage has become such a hit outside, with live music under the pines, that it has been renamed and completely redesigned with larger stage lined by hay bales and concert-quality lighting and sound. Two bands play each Saturday on the new Wyatt’s stage from 3-11 p.m. with some top groups, the biggest being nationally renowned Doo Wah Riders on Oct. 21, preceded earlier in the day by its alter ego the Craw-Daddy-O’s.
Tom Noland Band was hot last year and returns Sept. 30. September’s Wyatt’s lineup includes local favorites Street Music Band on Sept. 23 followed by Big Fat Steve Band, back after a year’s absence. From rockabilly and blues to rock, swing and classic country the band has entertained at Hollywood clubs like Gazzari’s and The Brown Derby as well as gigs on Catalina Island, an extended stay at Knott’s Berry Farm, and many Southland venues.
Don’t miss GTEV D’Oberlander Dancers on Sept. 23-24. The group performs not just traditional schuhplattlers but also includes alphorns, cowbells, hackbrett, zither and the accordion in upholding German traditions.
D’Oberlander has been in the Rose Parade and performed at Universal Studios and Disneyland. At the 100th anniversary of the Bayerischen Trachtler in Germany D’Oberlander served as German-American Ambassadors of the United States, presenting a proclamation from President Ronald Reagan commemorating 300 years of Germans in America.
Oktoberfest’s Sports Garten Grill has all the big game action on big screen TVs, or soak up suds and grilled bratwursts on the outdoor patio. Also outdoors is the Warsteiner Garten plus new Budenstrasse Biergarten along the Avenue of the Booths with carnival games, unique shopping and food.
Once the funs starts at Oktoberfest it never ends, each Saturday (noon-midnight) and Sunday (noon-5:30 p.m.) plus one Local’s Night on Friday, Oct. 6 when admission is just $6 with a portion of the proceeds going to local charities.
There’s always a free ride home from Oktoberfest each Saturday night for those who want one to any lodge or residence in the Valley courtesy of the O’Doul’s Shuttle. Now there’s complimentary rides to Oktoberfest as well, leaving Bartlett Parking Lot in the Village approximately every 30 minutes beginning at 2 p.m.
Off-peak admission the first three weekends is $14.99 on Saturdays, $10.99 seniors and $8 children 12 and under. Sundays are $8, $6 seniors, children free on Sundays. Clip the coupon for FREE Sunday adult admission on page 11 of September 2017 issue of Big Bear Today Magazine; click here for online version.
Call Convention Center at (909) 585-3000 or www.BigBearEvents.com.