by LAWSON ROBINSON
The time-honored Bavarian tradition of Oktoberfest was started 200 years ago in Munich, Germany. Last weekend, the ceremonial keg tapping took place at Rochester Mills Beer Co. Every year, Head Brewer Forrest Knapp taps into a firkin keg with a mallet and thus begins Rochester’s weekend of drinking, dancing, and family fun.
“The event has grown so much I have to start brewing in July to get all four batches of Oktoberfest done in time for the event,” said Knapp.
“The most important thing for me is that Oktoberfest is such a great community event,” said Melissa Plesz, Owner of Rochester Mills Beer Co. “We see the same families each year that come and enjoy the festivities and we are able to give so much back to the local charities that are important to members of the community and to me.”
The celebration was run in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan and the YMCA North Oakland Waves Swim Club.
Oktoberfest weekend at Rochester Mills aims to incorporate many of the German traditions that come along with celebrating the Fall season, with German-style cuisine including bratwurst, smoked sausage, sauerkraut, bierocks, and the ever-popular potato pancakes. And don’t forget about the beer – Rochester Mills offered a variety craft beers including the titular Oktoberfest, Water Street Wheat, and Lazy Daze Lite.
A large tent next to the Mills building housed a dance floor and stage where a lederhosen-dressed band performed Oompa and Polka music for all in attendance.
The Harvest Challenges were held in between sets from the band. These challenges included Sauerkraut-eating, brat-eating, and stein-hoisting competitions. As the sun went down, the Cosmic Groove performed inside of the Mills.
Oktoberfest is a family affair in Rochester. While adults drink delicious beer, children can play a range of games including Space Miner and Plinko. They also enjoy the inflatable bounce house and obstacle course, as well as a petting zoo with sheep, goats, and a horse ride. There were even balloon and tattoo artists for the children in attendance.
Stewart McWilliams, the Director of Operations for Rochester Mills Beer Co., spoke to the rich history of their annual Oktoberfest. “We celebrated our 19th anniversary earlier this year and over the years we have made our Oktoberfest one of the biggest in Michigan. This has become a huge community event – we may put it on but it’s Rochester’s Oktoberfest.”
If you missed this year’s Oktoberfest celebration, the Mills will be back next year on the last weekend in September.