Time to break out the lederhosen — it’s October, the Official First Full Month of Fall, otherwise known as OFFMF (pronounced Off-mif).
No matter your ethnicity, OFFMF in Douglas County may seem slightly more German this year, thanks to the first-ever Oktoberfest at 22 Northmen and the third-annual Oktoberfest at the Alexandria Senior Center.
Not that Douglas County wasn’t already heavily German.
According to the U.S. Census from 2000, the last time the census included a question about ancestry or ethnic origin, 45.1 percent of Douglas County residents reported German heritage, outnumbering the 27.1 percent who said they were Norvegian and the 13.6 percent who said they were Svedish.
The two Oktoberfests in Douglas County include one frothy and one sober.
The sober one is Thursday, Oct. 3, from noon to 6 p.m. at the Alexandria Senior Center.
“We can’t have alcohol at the senior center,” said organizer Clarence Wolf. But they will serve brats, sauerkraut, potato salad and chocolate bars. “Germans are big on chocolate.”
Three years ago, the senior center was looking for another fundraiser and Wolf suggested an Octoberfest. Why? “I’m German,” he explained, adding, “Ich bin Deutscher.”
When he was in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Germany, he was able to attend a couple of the Munich Oktoberfests. That’s where Oktoberfest started, in 1810, to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese.
“Over there, the ladies carried three liters of beer in each hand and we sang songs and had fun,” he recalled.
Although there won’t be alcoholic beverages, there will be “oompah” music, Wolf promised. Tickets are available at Elden’s Fresh Foods and the senior center and cost $10 in advance, $12 at the door, or $5 for children age 6 and under.
The frothy Oktoberfest is Saturday, Oct. 19 at 22 Northmen, and is a remake of Apple Fest at Carlos Creek Winery. With its brewery now open, the event has morphed into more of a celebration of beer instead of a celebration of the apple harvest, said owner Tami Bredeson.
“We will introduce an apple beer that day; it’ll be lager-based,” she said.
To add to the Oktoberfest ambience, 22 Northmen has hired a minstrel-style accordion player to wander the grounds, and hammer-schlagen, a nail pounding competition. While some events are kid-friendly, she said, the hammer-schlagen is definitely for adults.
Old favorites from Apple Fest will return, she said, such as horse wagon rides, live music and pumpkin-flinging demonstrations on its trebuchet.
Also watch for pumpkin painting, food trucks, pumpkin tic-tac-toe with white and orange pumpkins, and Luther Crest’s apple market. Some events will take place indoors and others outside. Admission is free, but some events cost money.
Although Oktoberfest sounds like a party for, well, October, Oktoberfest actually starts in September in Germany and runs for more than two weeks.
In that light, there actually was one more Oktoberfest event in Douglas County — the third annual Oletoberfest at Copper Trail Brewing in Alexandria, which took place in September.
OFFMF is not only for Germans, of course. Here are three other events that put the fun in Funtober.
Lake Carlos State Park’s Fall Festival is Saturday, Oct. 5. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the park will offer not just hikes to see the fall colors, but activities such as harvest games, archery, Dutch oven cooking, butter making and beekeeping. This program is free of charge but a vehicle permit is required to enter the park, $7 per day or $35 for a one-year permit.
Kids can pick pumpkins and navigate a corn maze at Country Blossom Farm just off I-94 southwest of Alexandria. Among its events in October are MEA Fun Days Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 17-20.
The Douglas County Historical Society will hold its Scarecrow Contest again this year, with drop-off dates from Oct. 9-18. This contest is open to any group, business, club, family or individual, with prizes for the top three winners.