By Ted Holteen
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The important thing about traditions is that they continue. As to exactly when they continue ... not so much.
Take the case of the San Juan Citizens Alliance’s seventh annual Oktoberfest, happening this weekend on Main Avenue. Focus on the “seventh annual” part and try not to notice that the calendar still says September. Or that other people have been doing Oktoberfest for 200 years.
“Ours is an organization committed to staying ahead of the issues that affect quality of life in the San Juan Basin, and in keeping with that goal, has organized the Durango community to celebrate Oktoberfest earlier and more heartily than in surrounding areas,” said Megan Graham, the alliance’s executive director.
“Also, because we are an organization that strives to run efficiently and effectively, we recognize that the traditional 17-day Oktoberfest model is simply not realistic for Durango’s citizens. Who has time for all that Schweinsbraten and Steckerlfisch?” she said.
This year the two-day street party moves back to its rightful home on Main Avenue after a well-meaning but ill-fated attempt to relocate Oktoberfest to East Second Avenue last year. What stays the same is the celebration, which in keeping with SJCA’s mission is loaded with local talent. That means local German style brats from Sunnyside Meats, local beers from the four local breweries and local bands – four on Saturday and four on Sunday. (See Page 2C for the full music schedule.)
As always, the festival begins with the mayor, or burgermeister, tapping the ceremonial first keg (with many more less-celebrated tappings likely to follow). Mayor Michael Rendon won’t be available this year, so Mayor Pro Tem Christina Rinderle Thompson will stand in. Then it’s two full days of fun and food including Sunday morning’s German pancake breakfast on Main Avenue.
The breakfast, to be held at 9:30 a.m., is perfectly situated to let revelers recover from Saturday and prepare for more to come on Sunday. Genius, really.
The original Oktoberfest was held Oct. 12, 1810, to celebrate the royal wedding of Bavarian King Ludwig I to Princess Therese. They were married in a meadow called Theresienwiese with festivities for the next five days filled with bratwurst, bierz and apfelstrudel.
To this day, Oktoberfest continues to be celebrated in that same meadow and all around the world.
Some of us just like to get an early start.