Great Northwest Oktoberfest returns to Whitefish

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Otto and Deanna Ratz dance to a polka during the Great Northwest Oktoberfest in Whitefish in 2016. (Aaric Bryan file photo/Daily Inter Lake)

It’s time to crown a new Hop Queen, tap a few (hundred) kegs, do the Chicken Dance and enjoy the Bavarian-style hospitality of the Great Northwest Oktoberfest in Whitefish Sept. 27 through Oct. 6.

The ninth annual event offers seven nights and two days of authentic Bavarian food, drink, music and dancing, and the wildest array of audience participation contests that the Flathead Valley has ever seen.

Three great bands will provide non-stop oompah, polka, waltz, Western swing, classic rock and other great dance music throughout the first weekend of the festival, Sept. 27-29.

The following week, Canada’s polka legends – The Western Senators – will play under the Oktoberfest Bigtop on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and will also make an appearance at the Firebrand Hotel on Wednesday, Oct. 3 for the 2018 Hop Queen qualifiers. On Saturday afternoons it’s the Bavarian Echoes, the Flathead’s own Bavarian brass band.

Each night at Oktoberfest, you’re invited to get “into the act” by participating in one of the hourly contests on the Main Stage — log-sawing, stein-holding, keg-hurling, mountain-climbing … just pick your shot, and show us what you got!

Back to defend his title this year will be six-time Whitefish Stein-Holding Champion Kevin Collom, who last week competed in the U.S. Masskrugstemmen (Stein-Holding) Championships in New York City. This year’s champ will be determined on the last night of Oktoberfest, Saturday Oct. 6, with the victor winning a trip to the National Semifinals in Las Vegas next summer. The winner of that competition goes to the Finals in New York in September, and the U.S. Champ wins an all-expense paid trip for two to Munich, Germany.

Our local Stein-Holding King gets the “royal treatment” courtesy of the Hofbrau Brewery in Munich, Germany, sponsors of the National Championships ... and the official German beer of Oktoberfest! Four different Hofbrau beers will be poured at this year’s fest, alongside four great brews from Whitefish’s own Great Northern Brewing Co.

Kids Day

Saturday, Sept. 29, is Kids’ Day at Oktoberfest, so bring out the whole family for a great fall afternoon of family-style fun co-hosted by the Whitefish Parks Department. We’ll have a bounce house for the youngsters to explore, a climbing wall, face-painting, the Kids Chicken Dancing Championships on the main dance floor, and other activities geared toward the young … and the young at heart. Volunteers from Project Whitefish Kids will be behind the Hofbrau Bar that afternoon, so be generous with your servers – your tips will be put to good use.

Ride the Whitefish Trail

Thursday, Oct. 4, is Whitefish Trail Night at Oktoberfest, with a portion of the gate proceeds benefiting Whitefish Legacy Partners, the nonprofit group that spearheads development of the Whitefish Trail system. Legacy Partners volunteers will be manning the bar that night. While you’re there, sign-up for the Whitefish Trail Legacy Run, which is Sunday, Oct. 7.

Hop Queen

Also on Thursday Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. is the crowning of the 2018-19 Hop Queen, accompanied by all of the pomp and circumstance befitting the coronation of the Royal Matriarch of Oktoberfest. For details on the event – or to throw your crown in the ring for the Hop Queen Pageant – call the Whitefish Chamber at 862-3501, or visit

Authentic Bavarian food & drink

Make no mistake about it, two of the stars of the show at Oktoberfest are the food and the beer, and this year’s menu at the Oktoberfest Bar (and Grille!) is as German as it gets!

Manning the Oktoberfest kitchen this year will be the folks at Huckepack BBQ (known the other 50 weeks of the year as Piggyback BBQ), and you can count on Reeves and the crew to serve it up in true Bavarian style. In addition to the German sausages there is sauerkraut, potato salad, sweet and sour cabbage and more. Fleur Bakery will be serving up German-themed desserts, and Sweet Peaks Ice Cream have a few special fall-themed flavors.

The Munich-based Hofbrau Brewery is back for 2018, pouring three great beers produced by one of the most legendary beer makers in the world. Hofbrauhaus translates literally to “Royal Beer Factory” and they’ll be pouring the original Hofbrau Lager, Dunkel and Oktoberfest lager. Great Northern Brewing Co. will have its 2018 Oktoberfest lager, the ever-popular Wheatfish, Frog Hop Pale Ale and Jorts Munich lager. Wine drinkers can choose from chardonnay, cabernet or reisling, and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.

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