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Thousands frolic at Oaks Park's Oktoberfest

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - The finalists in this annual odd contest show the Oktoberfest crowd their expert performances of The Chicken Dance!When summer weather suddenly departs the Pacific Northwest, as it usually suddenly does, it signals the start of the Oktoberfest season. And, instead of driving to distant towns to celebrate the Germanic fall tradition, many people join in the fun right here in Inner Southeast, at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park, just north of the west end of Spokane Street in Sellwood.

“What really sets the Oaks Park Oktoberfest apart from other celebrations, is that it’s set up to welcome the entire family,” explained the celebration’s hostess for the past nine seasons, Oaks Amusement Park Promotion and Events Manager Emily MacKay.

“Being family-friendly means that our entire Oktoberfest is made so that parents feel comfortable bringing their kids to experience it with them, at all hours, in either festhallen, at any event of our many events,” MacKay told THE BEE.

Now in its 22nd year, Portland’s premier German-style fall festival continued to offer – on the weekend of September 21st – authentic food, Paulaner beer, live oompah-band music, and dancing in two halls. As before, there were local craft vendors, wiener dog races, agility dog demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, Kinderplatz children’s activities, and, of course, the infamous Chicken Dance contest.

A new event this year was the “Barn Hunt Races”, in which dogs dashed through a retrieval maze.

“I always look forward to the food,” MacKay reflected. “Everyone enjoys dining on our delicious sausages, provided again this year by Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen in the Brooklyn neighborhood!” It’s just off Powell Boulevard, and next to the Brooklyn House. “And, I can’t wait for a slice of German chocolate cake!”

She also looks forward to three days of live music, played on three stages around the park. “I don’t care that my co-workers make fun of me, because I start listening to polka music in August as we get ready for our Oktoberfest!”

Just then, as one of the Pacific Northwest’s hottest polka bands, The Polkatones, played the first few bars of “Vogerltanz”, MacKay exclaimed, “You know what that means! It’s time for ‘The Chicken Dance’ contest!!”

On the large hall’s dance floor, young and old revelers began making the motion of clacking their beaks, flapping their feathers, shaking their tail feathers, and clapping to the beat of the lively polka tune.

Again this year, Oaks Amusement Park proved the total Oktoberfest experience, right here in town, for those who did not chicken out!