By Connor Dziawura
Beer, brats, Bavaria. Throw in some good music, quality family time and all-ages fun, and that’s what Oktoberfest is about.
Tempe Sister Cities and Four Peaks are reuniting to bring the Four Peaks Oktoberfest to Tempe Town Lake from Friday, October 13, to Sunday, October 15. The three-day Bavarian-style festival features beer gardens, traditional German foods, carnival activities and four stages of music.
The 45th festival, which is in its fifth year with the Four Peaks title sponsorship, kicks off with a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday that provides $1 off every beverage in the beer and wine service areas as well as $1 off main menu items at bratwurst tents.
“We have been blessed with bringing forth the open beer garden format,” says Bobbi Jones, the event’s co-chairwoman. “Because we have a multigenerational audience and over the years we’ve proven to be a very family-friendly atmosphere, we are no longer restricted to fencing off beer gardens.
The festival will also hold beer and Barefoot Wine tasting events throughout the weekend, with a Peach Ale Brunch scheduled at the Four Peaks Beer Garden Stage’s East Lawn from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. On the menu are Four Peaks Peach Ale, Barefoot Wine Brut Cuvée Dry Champagne, Barefoot Wine Peach & Berry Bubbly, among other alcoholic beverages and the newly introduced Brat Burrito.
“You can enjoy your beer throughout the park, whether you’re in the Kinderfest watching your grandkids or your kids enjoy some of the arts and crafts or you’re over in front of one of the stages,” Jones continues. “You’ll be able to walk leisurely through the park and enjoy all aspects with or without alcoholic beverages; it’s your choice.”
But how can you have a beer without a brat to go with it? Well, the festival has guests covered with five bratwurst service tents, which will sell Johnsonville Sheboygan brats, Regensburg brat plates and chicken apple sausage brats.
Maybe brats aren’t your thing. In that case, the festival will also have hot dogs, sauerkraut, potato salad and hot pretzels. Although much of this food honors the German roots of Oktoberfest, traditional carnival treats such as corn dogs, turkey legs, funnel cakes and roasted corn, as well as Island Noodles will be available.
“Although we want to focus on our German heritage and food items, anyone, including gluten-free diets, can find a plethora of choices,” Jones says.
But it wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without music. Four stages—the Four Peaks Lakefront Stage, the Four Peaks East Lawn, the new Central Park Stage and the Spaten Polka Stage—will feature artists like the Wes Williams Band, Tridon, Fayuca, The Black Moods, The Bouncing Czechs, Fairy Bones, Mogollon and Banana Gun.
“We’re so happy to provide four stages of entertainment, which allows us to do different programming,” she says. “At any one time, any person – cross-generational – should be able to find some music of their liking.”
With classic rock, fledgling artists and polka divided among three of the four stages, the fourth – Central Park Stage – will feature karaoke on Friday night and a Battle of the Bands contest on Saturday.
While entry to the seasonal festival is free, sponsor Brown’s Amusements will bring adult and children’s carnival attractions. All-day passes to those activities are $33, which also includes a beverage and brat or other menu items. Children can enjoy Kinderfest throughout the weekend. Also on the docket are the Spaten 4v4 Soccer Tournament on Friday and Saturday, and Arizona Adopt a Greyhound’s Dachshund races on Sunday.
Still, Oktoberfest is festive.
“Every year we seem to evoke more and more characters that are in the German traditional dress,” Jones says. “All our international guests that come from all over the world are in their particular traditional dress, especially our sister city, Regensburg. We encourage it, we really like it when people start wearing their German fit…I have three dirndls myself I pull out of the closet every year.”
But while this event brings the heart and soul of Germany to Tempe Town Lake, the festival is debuting a new concept this year: Superhero Sunday. Inspired by Comic Cons and events at other festivals, Four Peaks Oktoberfest wants to inject more family-friendly ideas into the popular festival.
“We expect a lot of great superhero costumes as well as some variations of Comic Cons and we’re just going to make a big parade out of it and have a really good time on Sunday,” Jones says. “We’re hoping that everybody comes down for Superhero Sunday and enjoys the park. It’s so much fun.”
Tempe Sister Cities, which is primarily volunteer-based, uses the event to raise funds for its program that sends high school seniors on 10-week international summer trips. Tempe’s Oktoberfest has been a success, and Jones expects it to continue.
“Every year it’s just exciting,” Jones says. “It’s one of the things I think is the backbone of this successful event, and when it comes together I’m always impressed. The volunteers in our community who come together and do a professional job in areas they otherwise would not have expertise. Our community is amazing in how many volunteers come out and give their blood, sweat and tears to make this festival happen.”
Four Peaks Oktoberfest, Tempe Town Lake, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 480.415.2362, fourpeaksoktoberfest.com, various times, Friday, October 13, to Sunday, October 15, free admission.