Fifty years of anything is a big achievement. This October 2nd to 4th the Amana Colonies will be celebrating their 50th Anniversary of Oktoberfest, believed to be the oldest in Iowa. This celebration has grown from a small cup of German culture in the parking lot of a local clubhouse to a huge stein of locally brewed German ambience that now spreads over three locations in the center of the village. Where fifty years ago several hundred residents and a few visitors attended, the 2015 Oktoberfest will welcome thousands of thirsty patrons.
Once you arrive you can’t help but be transported into the revelry that is Oktoberfest. Many locals and visitors dust off their lederhosen and dirndls for this first weekend in October festival that in Germany began as a wedding celebration. The only marriage taking place in Amana on this weekend is that of the local Amana Meat Shop Bratwurst and the locally brewed Oktoberfest beer by Millstream Brewing. To many in attendance, that is a marriage made in heaven.
Much like the original festival held in Munich each year, the Amana version offers a ceremonial tapping of the first keg by the local Burgermeister, followed by free beer until the keg runs dry. The similarity to the Munich event doesn’t stop with the beer and the brats, it continues with the music, a parade on Saturday morning, an Eisenmann (Ironman) competition, and a keg tossing competition.
This version of Oktoberfest is that slice of apple strudel you think of with a German community like the Amana Colonies. Yes, there is plenty of music, food, and beer but the village of Amana provides a beautiful backdrop with the autumn colors and its century-old brick and sandstone buildings. Everywhere you turn you’ll feel like you’re in Germany but that’s exactly what you would expect; after all it is Iowa’s original Oktoberfest and it is the Amana Colonies.