The community is invited to take part in the largest Oktoberfest event in southwest Missouri this weekend at the 28th Annual Oktoberfest at the Faith Lutheran Church in Branson.
Faith Lutheran Church Music Director and Oktoberfest Co-Coordinator Gina Brandt said that what started out years ago as a three-hour dinner, has grown into a three-day festival.
“In the very beginning, we did a community dinner, and they called it a sausage dinner because of our German heritage. But we wanted to open our doors to the community. We wanted our friends and neighbors to feel free to come into the church. It was a fundraiser, but mainly it was a community outreach event,” said Brandt. “You would come in and sit down at long tables visiting and get to know your neighbors type of thing. So it’s always been a community outreach and will always continue to be.”
On the menu, attendees will find authentic German food, including bratwursts, homemade sauerkraut, German potato salad and apple strudel.
“We have brats that are made and brought in from a German butcher who used to prepare bratwurst in Munich for the Oktoberfest over there,” Brandt said. “The sauerkraut, we call candy bacon sauerkraut, because its not your typical open the can and throw on a pan sauerkraut. It is a German recipe almost 600 years old now. It’s a family recipe of the Brandts’.”
Meal tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. A child’s meal is also available for $5, which includes a hot dog, chips and a cookie. A number of food items will also be for sale ala carte such as German pastries, big barrel pickles, Bavarian pretzels and lebkuchenherzen, which is a traditional German baked cookie that has a ribbon on it that one can wear around their neck to snack on throughout the festival.
Brandt said that new to the festival this year will be a beer garden.
“We’ll have a beer garden inside and sell non-alcoholic German beer and sodas and things,” said Brandt. “New this year along with the beer garden, we have a German marketplace. We have everything from imported German chocolates to German mustards.”
Brandt said that between the great entertainment and food, their festival has something for everybody all three days of the event.
“We go as authentic as we can. We keep it a good community fun time,” she said. “We just want to open the doors for the whole community to come in and just feel welcome.”
Brandt said their event has even been approved by a German couple who stumbled upon the event while traveling across the United States.
“They decided to come down and they thought ‘Let’s see what they think an Oktoberfest is supposed to be like.’ They came in and they were so shocked. They said, ‘This is just like Germany. This is just like home. You guys do an excellent job.’ He said, ‘The food is great,’ and his wife says, ‘No, the food is excellent.’ So we got a thumbs up from them,” said Brandt.
While some of the funds raised during this event are used to support the Faith Lutheran Church and its Life Center, a portion of the proceeds are being donated to the Branson Police Department Community Youth Outreach Programs.
“When we called them and asked them if we could do that for them, they were just totally appreciative and in awe, because nobody ever calls and asks if they can do something for them,” Brandt said. “So we were excited to be able to do that.”
The event also includes a Kinderpark for children that will offer outdoor games, bounce houses and tractor driven wagon rides. There will be live polka performances and dance instruction from Sonshine Dance and Fitness on Friday and Saturday, and a live performance by Premier Dance Academy on Sunday.
A silent auction and gift basket raffle will also be held throughout the three-day event, which will conclude on Sunday afternoon.
Admission into Oktoberfest is free and open to the public. This annual three-day event will run from Oct. 4 to 6. Events will run from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The Faith Lutheran Church is located at 221 Malone Street in Branson. A full schedule of events and activities and additional information can all be found at faithbranson.org.