Thousands party at Breck’s Oktoberfest |

Thousands party at Breck’s Oktoberfest

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Frisco resident Zlata Rauker, left, (originally from Croatia) dances hand in hand with Aurora resident Lori "Heidi" Palmisano and have a kick at this year's Oktoberfest.

BRECKENRIDGE – By the thousands, they came for the beer, the bratwurst and to dance the Chicken Dance.That’s what made this year’s Oktoberfest celebration such a success, said Ken Miller of the Breckenridge Resort Chamber. He estimates that 10,000 people strolled up and down the two blocks of south Main Street Saturday; Sunday, he hoped for an additional 7,500. Last year, 15,000 people attended the event.”Roy Kaye, who was the beermeister for Larimer Square for 15 years, said this was the best Oktoberfest in the Rockies,” Miller said. “He said, ‘I’ve retired, but I still have to come to Breckenridge.'””I like the authenticity,” Kaye said. “That’s lost in most of them. (Saturday), Larimer couldn’t touch it. There’s more fellowship, camaraderie, a light atmosphere.”The event has come a long way since the late 1980s when it was held in the garage of Beaver Run as a beer tasting for locals. But some things never change.

Many cited the beer as their favorite part of the event. Paulaner and Breckenridge Brewery were both serving up brews specially created for the party – and people were quaffing them with gusto.Saturday, partiers drank an estimated 200 kegs worth of beer. Vendors were having record days, Miller said, and by Saturday evening, they’d sold about 4,000 of the 6,000 steins they’d ordered.”I’m here to enjoy the beer, the people,” said Don Rohn of Frisco. “I grew up in Milwaukee, so I can’t have an Oktoberfest go by without having a beer.””I like the music and beer and getting out of Denver,” said Tammy Manes of Lakewood. “I like the atmosphere; it seems more authentic (than other Oktoberfest celebrations). And it’s very family oriented, not just a big drunk fest.””I’m here to get drunk, of course – that’s what they do in Germany,” said 78-year-old Pat Pearson of Aurora, who admitted she really doesn’t drink. “No, I like the music, the energy of the people.”Food ran the gamut, and included Austrian Krapfen, apple strudel, bratwurst, giant pretzels and Black Forest ham sandwiches, among other offerings.

A band on stage, whose members were decked out in lederhosen, played a raucous set of German tunes that brought women in dirndles – traditional German dresses – to their feet. Even “Polka Joe” Hanak was sipping on a Breckenridge Brewery ale in preparation for his turn on the accordion.”This beer is fantastic,” he said. “If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t make it.”He admitted that he enjoys seeing so many young people coming out to listen to the music.”I’ve played all over the world,” said the 80-year-old. “Where I come from, all the people are older. It’s nice to introduce young people to foreign music. The atmosphere alone is worth coming down for.” “It’s reminiscent of time I’ve spent in Germany,” said Linda Albright of Breckenridge. “I never went to Oktoberfest (there), but the music is similar to what I’d heard there, and the beer is similar to what we drank there.”

“I like the beer and food,” said Susan Ash of Scottsdale, Ariz., who with her family plans a trip every year to make it to the event. “Eat drink and be merry. This is great.””I think it’s great,” said Travis Scott of Dripping Springs, Texas. “I grew up in a German town where they had festivals in the spring and summer. This kind of reminds me of home.”Miller said he hopes the event grows by double-digit figures in attendance and sales this year. Next year, he plans to expand the ticket sales and beer tent operations, and eventually, he’d like to expand the food and entertainment options.”Even the locals are saying this is one of their favorite events,” he said. “I like it that locals say that.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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