Now that the 43rd Oktoberfest in Helen, Georgia, is in full swing, you may be thinking that it’s a more affordable trip than heading out to Munich for that German city’s celebration. Maybe it’s even better to hit the Georgia festival honoring the German tradition.
“In Helen’s Festhalle, you are under a roof, not a tent, like you would be in Munich,” said Renee Chacon, the executive director of the Helen Festhalle, in an interview. “It’s a great building with a scenic view.”
Plus, the music, food, and beer are authentic.
“We have two bands playing nightly for a week for the next several weeks,” Chacon noted. “And yes, there are some pretty upbeat polka bands. Roland Kurz, who is playing now, is from Fussen, our sister city in Germany.”
So what’s popular with the attendees of this year’s Oktoberfest?
“For food, folks like the cheddarwurst and the Hungarian wurst this year,” Chacon pointed out. “As for beer, they like the Hofbrau and the Paulaner brews. Of course, we have 16 on tap and a zillion bottles of beer.”
Locals had good things to say about other restaurants, like Cafe International and the Bodensee Restaurant. But even if you want a break from German food for a meal, there are plenty of other options.
“There’s a great variety and diversity of restaurants,” said Sally Punec, a bartender and server with the Nacoochee Village Tavern and Pizzeria, in an interview. “There’s a Mexican restaurant, fast food, and some other places like ours that serve something other than German food.”
But one spot not to overlook is where to get your breakfast. Locals and smart tourists know to go to Hofer’s Bakery and Cafe, on the edge of town, with the best German pastries.
“They stream on in as we open and keep coming until we close,” said Candace Haley, the assistant manager of Hofer’s, in an interview. “They’ll eat in the cafe or take out deli stuff and eat in the nearby park. The favorites are German apple strudel, Black Forest tort, and apple fritters.”
Whatever your taste buds and ears prefer, you have the rest of October to join in the revelry. But it doesn’t shut down, as Helen does a brisk tourism business year-round. As they clean up from another Oktoberfest, they’ll be getting the Tannenbaums ready for Christmas.
For more information on upcoming Oktoberfest activities, please contact the White County Chamber of Commerce (http://www.whitecountychamber.org/)
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia.