By ELAINE ALFARO
Most La Mesa citizens know once September rolls around, there is one weekend to look forward to. Characterized by the tantalizing smells of bratwurst sausage and the loud echoes of the yodeling contest, Oktoberfest will be celebrating its 48th year this Oct. 1-3.
Last year due to COVID-19, the event entered the online world much like the rest of the event industry. However, McFarlane Promotions, the company planning and coordinating the festival, is getting the Oktoberfest back in person this year because according to Laurel McFarlane, president of McFarlane Promotions: “It’s just not the same. You can imagine how many people aren’t benefiting from [online]. Some people did really good with events online and a lot didn’t.”
Public Relations and Marketing Associate Estefania Cerda added, “We can’t see our attendees enjoy these events and festivals which kind of sucks because as an event planner, after working tirelessly on it and for so many hours and seeing all the crowds, that’s how you get the satisfaction. We missed out on that this [past] year.”
La Mesa Village Association Chair and owner of Amethyst Moon, Teri Favro, saw first hand how missing out on the in-person event last year impacted her fellow vendors and merchants.
“I know a lot of vendors in the Oktoberfest have gone out of business or are struggling to build their inventory because they haven’t had any income coming in,” said Favro.
However, it appears the event will be back to its usual glory, complete with three biergartens, the largest ferris wheel they’ve had in five years and over 100 vendor booths featuring food and shopping.
In addition to the usual festivities, there will be some new attractions making an appearance this year. The craft beer and spirits garden will be adding seltzer to the alcohol options and in the main Hofbrauhaus Biergarten, there will be a touchless POS system to order drinks for pick up at the bar.
Also, on Third Avenue and La Mesa Boulevard, strong man games will be taking place and darting in and out of the crowds you might look up and see some stilt walkers.
“We like to have things that are different,” Favro said. “[McFarlane] is very particular about where to place people and we like to have a lot of local artists: more arts and crafts things instead of big commercial. We like to keep it a hometown feel.”
These new additions along with the traditional attractions are meant to bring the community of La Mesa and newcomers alike together.
“I know that in order for an event to work, you need to make sure the community is involved and has a say,” McFarlane said. “We’re always thinking, How can we benefit that community?”
As far as safety protocols and COVID-19 concerns, all staff and vendors will go through a screening process; unvaccinated staff will be wearing masks; there will be hand sanitizer stations; as well as a cleaning team designated for cleaning surfaces on a regular basis.
Ultimately, the Oktoberfest is meant to be a time to find and reconnect with the community, according to McFarlane.
“Honestly, just seeing people and their smiles again, that’s why you do it,” McFarlane said. “We do this to create the best nights or the best times and memories. We realize we are part of people’s [memories] like ‘remember when we entered our dog in the dachshund contest.’ That’s why I do it. We all have so much stress in our lives. What’s so great about events is, for that moment or brief time, you’re just having a good time and you’re not thinking of all your problems.”
Plus, it’s an opportunity for businesses to get back on their feet after this past tumultuous year.
“All the business owners, we’re kind of like a big family,” said Favro. “A lot of us are the La Mesa Village Association and we’re just getting more and more excited about it. The big thing that I look forward to are all the people that are coming down to have that comradery, community and also we get so many new customers that never have seen our store before so they end up coming back after the Oktoberfest to do their holiday shopping. That really is like the start of the momentum of holiday shopping.”
The influences of traditional German culture as well as California style will be infused into this three-day weekend and so far, according to Cerda, ticket sales are up (nearly triple what they were in 2019).
VIP tickets for the biergartens can be purchased online or in person at the event. More information can be found at www.lamesaoktoberfest.org.
Whether you take part in arts and crafts, compete in a keg relay, watch live performances at the Der Deutsche Dance Square, or enter your furry friend in the Dackeldorf extravaganza, this free event has something for everyone.
“I look forward to walking around and meeting the different vendors,” Favro said. “Sometimes I end up with some of the vendors having their stuff in my stores, so that’s good for the contacts. It’s the community event where you never know who you might meet and how they can be involved in your life.”
— Elaine Alfaro is a former San Diego Community Newspaper Group intern and a current journalism student at Point Loma Nazarene University.
More fun activities!
Dackelforf Dachshund Village
Your pups are family too. That’s why we’ve created games and contests just for your fur-ever friends. Whether your four-legged companion is the fastest in the race, has the best Lederhosen or is the loudest howl-derler in town, we have something for you! To register your loyal pup please visit, bit.ly/3d89yp8.
Der Deutsche Dance Square
Step outside of your comfort zone and into the Der Deutsche Dance Square sponsored by Grahovac Construction and hosted by Flavor Company Dance Entertainment (FCDE), to tap into diverse dance cultures that you have yet to explore! FCDE “is a cultural fusion dance entertainment group” who “draw on the cultural dances of the world to inform [their] musical and dance elements choices, presenting a unique fusion feel that keeps audiences and participants engaged and excited.” – Flavor Company Dance Entertainment website.
Will Power Community Fitness Oktoberfest Games
Gather up your brute and brawn and head to La Mesa Boulevard and 3rd Avenue to feed your playful side in a variety of spirited, competitive games, brought to you by Will Power Community Fitness. Games include: kids obstacle course, strong man contest, strong woman contest, head-to-head competition and more!
German Kinder Karneval
La Mesa Oktoberfest isn’t just your typical food and drink celebration, it’s an elevated experience for all ages. Find authentic homemade treasures and explore authentic art and German-style craft pieces from over 30 local artisans! Bring the whole family out for a weekend of family-friendly activities at the German Kinder Karneval, featuring a towering Ferris wheel sponsored by Amethyst Moon, rock-climbing wall, massive inflatable slides, interactive art, brat-eating competitions, and more!
The Hofbrauhaus Biergarten Stage schedule
The Hofbrauhaus Biergarten is the largest biergarten at Oktoberfest with brews, bites, games and more! Groove to bands of all genres from tribute to oompa in this large and diverse garten!
Friday, Oct. 4
4-4:45 p.m. – Polka Party (Oompah Band)
5-5:45 p.m. – The Shambles (Band)
6-6:45 p.m. – Polka Party/Interactive Games
7-8:15 p.m. – Cheap Tricked (Cover Band)
8:30-10 p.m. – Bayside High 90s Band (Cover Band) – Headliner
Saturday, Oct. 5
10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Polka Party/Interactive Oktoberfest Games
12:30-1:15 p.m. – Rio Pelegroso (Band)
1:30-2:15 p.m. – Polka Party/Interactive Games
2:30-3:15 p.m. – Captain J & the Jove Crew
3:30-4:15 p.m. – Polka Party/Interactive Games
4:30 – 5:15 p.m. – Cousin Oliver’s Cavalcade of Hits
5:30-6:15 p.m. – Polka Party/Interactive Games
6:30-7:30 p.m. – Grand Sonic Theory (90sCover Band)
7:45-8:15 p.m. – Polka Party/Interactive Games
8:30-10 p.m. – The Young Guns (80s Cover Band) – Headliner
Sunday, Oct. 6
Noon-1 p.m. – Starts On the Water (Cover Band)
1:15-2 p.m. – Polka Party (Oompah Band) & Beer Brunch
2:15-3 p.m. – Ron Houston & the Berry Pickers (Cover Band)
3:15-4 p.m. – Polka Party/Interactive Games
4:15-5 p.m. – The Nineteen 90s (90s Cover Band)
5:15-6 p.m. – Polka Party/Interactive Games
6:15-8 p.m. – Journeymen (Cover/Tribute Band) – Headliner
The Craft Bier & Seltzer Garten schedule
Experience the German inspired theme served California Style with craft brews and seltzers! Vibe to local San Diego DJ beats all weekend long within this unique garten & relax as you enjoy the perfect day in La Mesa.
Friday, Oct. 4
4-6 p.m. – Raul Rios
6-8 p.m. – Lotus
8-10 p.m. – Parradax – Headliner
Saturday, Oct. 5
10 a.m.-Noon – Darchon
Noon-2 p.m. – Eddie Abarca
2-4 p.m. – Jenny Pocket
4-6 p.m. – Yodah
6-8 p.m. – Ayla Simone
8-10 p.m. – Sassy Seth – Headliner
Noon-2 p.m. – Jirafa
2-4 p.m. – Wolfgang Alexander
4-6 p.m. – Yodah
6-8 p.m. – Dida – Headliner