Oktoberfest returns to Old Town Winchester

WINCHESTER – The 5th annual Oktoberfest returns to Old Town Winchester today and Saturday.

Jennifer Bell, downtown manager, said this year’s event is bigger than in past years.

“It keeps growing in popularity,” Bell said. “So, this year we decided to fully embrace the Oktoberfest tradition.”

Festivalgoers will notice a name change. Originally dubbed OctoBeer Fest, Bell said this year it’s called the Old Town Winchester Oktoberfest. Another change was the expansion of the event space. The footprint of this year’s festival will extend from the 1840 Courthouse Museum up to the Loudoun Street Mall to the Taylor Pavilion on North Loudoun Street.

Ticketed guests will enjoy a beer and wine garden offering over 30 varieties of beer. On the Courthouse lawn, Bell said, local breweries will provide samples of their Oktoberfest-inspired beers. Participating breweries include Winchester Brew Works, Alesatian, Escutcheon and Winchester Cider Works.

Two “high-energy” bands will be returning. Today the Bavarski Band, known for performing everything from Chicago-style polka to Oktoberfest party music, will be at the Taylor Pavilion. On Saturday at the pavilion, festivalgoers will enjoy the sounds of the Continentals, a band known for their wide repertoire.

“The Bavarski Band is a little more rock-orientated, but they’re upbeat and lively. Which makes for good times and dancing,” Bell said.

The Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattler Verein, the “original Bavarian Dance Club of Washington, D.C.,” will return with its 30 costumed dancers on Saturday.

“Everyone is invited to compete in the Best Dressed Lederhosen and Dirndl Contest on Friday night,” Bell said.

The top prize is an overnight stay at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown. The competition continues with a Stein Holding contest on both days.

“It’s harder than people may realize,” Bell said. Participants are asked to hold a water-filled beer stein at a 90-degree angle using only one arm.

Food, which will be provided by The Village Bistro and various vendors, will include Hungarian stew, German chocolate cupcakes and hot German potato salad.

“Friday is more for entertainment, while Saturday is much more family oriented,” Bell said. “We want families to bring their children and celebrate cultural heritage within the community. It’s really fun for all ages.”

Admission and a tasting package can be purchased at the gate for $10. It includes three tastings and the commemorative Old Town Tasting Glass (while supplies last).

Most importantly, Bell wants patrons to know that all businesses on the downtown walking mall are open. “Tickets aren’t needed to come walk on the mall,” she said. “Citizens should come down and just enjoy the atmosphere.”

If You Go

When:  5 to 11 p.m. today, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Old Town Winchester’s Loudoun Street Mall, Taylor Pavilion and Old Courthouse lawn.

Cost: $10 each day.