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The nonprofit, historic amusement park in Sellwood lifts the Oktober bier-stein once again

DAVID F. ASHTON - Sellwood neighbor Bob Goman successfully tosses the most pretzels onto the plunger handle held by his wife, Kelly, to win the Pretzel Toss contest! Instead of traveling to distant locations to enjoy a traditional German Oktoberfest celebration, thousands of Portlanders continue to find music, food – and of course, beer – closer to home, at historic and nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park, as they did on the weekend of October 22.

Lively music played by groups ranging from small combos to the eight-piece, world-famous "Polkatones" filled the century-old amusement park from two festhalles – the main one a gigantic parking-lot-sized tent.

"What sets our Oktoberfest apart – we've been hosting them here since 1990 – from the many other celebrations, is that ours is entirely family-oriented," pointed out The Oaks' Marketing and Events Director, Emily MacKay.

"Here, you'll find moms and dads, their kids, grandmas and grandpas, cousins and friends, all having fun together," MacKay told THE BEE.

"Folks who visit us from Germany tell us that this has the feel of a 'real' Oktoberfest in their home towns; it's in a setting surrounded by trees, with a river flowing past, where families, friends, and neighbors come together to celebrate in the fall," remarked MacKay.

The "Wiener Dog Races" are still a popular attraction, with owners bringing their short-legged, long-bodied dachshunds to run the track. Meanwhile, other guests were browsing the shops set up in the small Alpine-village-like setting.

And, thanks to a new association with Portland-based Maletis Beverage Company, the Oaks' Oktoberfest not only offered traditional beers imported from Germany, but also a "Portland style" of brew – an IPA made with imported German ingredients – direct from Lents neighborhood based Zoiglhaus Brewery.

"Also new this year was hard cider; it proved so popular, we quickly sold out of it," MacKay said. "But it seems that everyone, including myself, just looks forward to feasting on sausages, schnitzels, strudels, and German chocolate cake!"

As afternoon turned to evening, families congregated in the Wichtigsten festhalle, sitting together at the long picnic tables, only arising for food, beverages – and to participate in the most lively of all Oktoberfest traditions, "The Chicken Dance".

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