Friday, November 5, 2021

ADVENTURES CLOSE TO HOME: Placerville Oktoberfest

Our usual and favorite Oktoberfest is ending an era this year. The Phoenix Club, a German cultural club in Anaheim, has a great festival each fall. This is the last year at that location because the nearby Honda Center arena wants that land to expand...which is ironic because the original location of the club was given up so the Honda Center could be built.

The club has plans to move to another location and having their celebration there.

In the meantime, we've found another home for our German fall celebration up in the historic town of Placerville in El Dorado County.

While there are other Oktoberfest celebrations in the Sacramento area...Folsom, Clements, Lake Camanche, and Sacramento itself for starters...this one seems to be the easiest for us.

A couple of years ago, the last Oktoberfest here before Covid was a big mess as the ticket redemption system was a complete fiasco. The manager of the fest finally threw in the towel and said "let everybody in."

This year...the first since Covid...there are no tickets needed. Entrance is free but you need to buy tickets to redeem for beer.

Placerville is a pretty, 40 minute drive from our house and parking was easy to find about a block away from the entrance. We arrived at 2:55pm. The festival starts at 3pm. Pretty little Main Street in downtown is blocked off with booths for beer and food vendors lining the way for three blocks.

One obstacle is that ABC rules won't let them serve beer until 3pm. No big deal but they're also not selling the tickets required for the beer until 3 either, making for a long, slow line at the sale booth. Maybe they could start selling the tickets a half hour early next year to help eliminate that roadblock.

Another one is that the sign at the ticket booth is "$10 for 12 oz. beer, $12 for 20 oz. beer." I ask for a few 20 oz. tickets. 

"OK, a stein and 4 tickets," I'm told.

"No, just 4 tickets, I've got my own stein."

"You are required to buy the stein to get the large tickets," she tells me.

"No where on your sign, posters, or your ads does it say that. I don't want the stein."

It's a battle I'm destined to loose so I buy one stein and 3 tickets (cost me an extra 8 bucks) so we can get on with it. I give the stein to a lady nearby who was happy to have the souvenir.

First stop, Tim's hungry and wants a big pretzel. There you go, Tim.

Next, they're tapping the cermonial keg so we swing over there. With everybody still in line to buy beer tickets, there's only about 10 people here and we know that once tapped, the free flowing beer is allowed to be poured into anybody's mug who is standing there so we get about half a stein of beer for free.

I enjoy I quick drink with the brewmeister and his wife.

Next, I find Letty and Tim, we find a bench to sit at and I stand in line for some very good bratwursts. 

Once the food is in hand, I pass that off to the other two and go stand in another line for beer. After 20 minutes, I get to the stand and...they ran out of beer.

So it's off to another stand where it only takes me 10 minutes to get to the front and get our steins filled.

While we're eating and drinking, a lady comes by with her pet wolf.'s a wolf. It's only 7 months old so she's pretty lovable and petable with a nice soft coat. I ask her if the wild animal ever presents itself and she says "oh, yeah...that's why we're over here. If we were over in the crowd down the street, she'd go nuts."

Bands play on the stage and people dance in the street. It's getting very crowded so we stand in a couple more lines to finish off our beer tickets, have a little more fun visiting with the other people in the crowd (our German steins are a big hit with everybody) and then call it a night.

The pros of this particular celebration is that it's free to enter (others charge up to $50 just to walk in the door), the location is very pretty and conducive to a party, the people are very friendly, and there's a vast variety of local microbrews served.

The cons are that it gets crowded, there are a lot of lines to stand it, and there are not nearly enough tables and chairs to sit at (many people brought their own folding chairs to sit it, we might do that next time).

Placerville usually has their Oktoberfest on a Saturday at the beginning of October. Check out the website for the Placerville Oktoberfest to see exactly when the next celebration will occur.

Darryl Musick
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