Three direct-from-Germany bands, two of which play this month. Big Bear Oktoberfest makes a pretty big splash in September too.
The first month of Big Bear’s annual fall festival held at the Convention Center Sept. 10-October 29 is as busy as the second. In addition to the opening American Heroes weekend featuring longtime favorites The Express Band, September features German groups Alpenklange plus New Mainfloesser 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. Visit each weekend in September and you’ll hear a different band each time…can’t do that in October!
The 46th version of one of the nation’s top Oktoberfests gets underway Sept. 10-11 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 polka 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 nearly 30 years. 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 Express returns for closing night’s “German Spooktacular” on Oct. 29.
Alpenklange makes its only Oktoberfest appearance second weekend on Sept. 17-18. The six-member band has a nice horn section and plays a mix of traditional Oktoberfest tunes plus current hits.
Oktoberfest headliners New Mainfloesser Band return for the first time in three years with its first of three weekends on Sept. 24-25. That means that fan-favorite Felix Christel is back as lead singer and frontman who occasionally ventures into the audience to sing Elvis songs. the nine-member band is tight and this is essentially the second generation Mainfloesser Band to play Big Bear; the parents of many of these performers came over a dozen years ago.
The Spaten Rocktoberfest Stage has become such a hit outside, with live music under the pines, that it has been moved slightly to a new location so everyone down the Budenstrasse (Avenue of the Booths) can hear too. Two bands play each Saturday from 3-11 p.m. with some top names, the biggest being nationally renowned Doo Wah Riders on Oct. 22. Tom Noland Band makes its first Oktoberfest visit Oct. 15.
September’s Spaten lineup includes local favorites Street Music Band opening Saturday along with Final Exit. Joe Ferraro and The Rippers are on Sept. 17 with the Blue Henrys and Sean Wiggins Sept. 24.
Don’t miss GTEV D’Oberlander Dancers on Sept. 24-25. 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.
In the Bier Garten there’s contests like shoot `n yodel and beer pong. Catch Oktoberfest’s redecorated Sports Bar under the pines, where there’s 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 with 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. 7 when admission is just $6 with a portion of the proceeds going to local charities.
September admission 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 the September 2016 issue of Big Bear Today, available at fine lodges, cabins, motels and rentals along with restaurants, Village shops, Alpine Slide and other locations. Call Convention Center at (909) 585-3000 or www.BigBearEvents.com.