Not every international holiday is embraced by Minnesotans.
The United Kingdom’s Boxing Day? In the Twin Cities, it might as well mean the same thing as “moving day.” Mexico’s Day of the Dead? Let’s just say it was never really alive here. China’s Qingming Jie? Uttering the phrase is likelier to result in a “gesundheit” than a party.
There’s something about Oktoberfest, though — and we suspect it’s the beer — that gets the state all kinds of excited. In the Land of 10,000 Lakes and about 9,000 breweries, finding an excuse to get together over some sausages (the official dish of the Midwest?) and a cold one is not difficult.
But hey, since the Germans mentioned it, why not? Let’s do this thing.
The festivities began in Munich in 1810, inspired by a royal wedding. Wines and beers were tasted, horses were raced and merriment was made — enough so that everyone decided to come back a year later and do it again, and then again, and again.
These days, the tradition has been adopted the world over, perhaps few places as eagerly as Minnesota, which has one of the largest German populations in the country and, of course, really likes those aforementioned beers and sausages.
Here, too, the annual revelry continues to grow, and suddenly, variations on the classic are cropping up everywhere. Minneapolis’ Tilia recently celebrated Augtoberfest, which got things going a bit earlier than usual. St. Paul’s Pajarito is getting even more creative with its Oktoberfiesta — a Mexican spin on the bash. Of course, if you’re just craving traditional beer steins, tall socks and lots of hammerschlagen, there’s plenty of that, too.
Check out these six celebrations around the Twin Cities:
Oktoberfest at Gasthof Zur Gemütlichkeit: This German restaurant in northeast Minneapolis does the party right with dancing, grub that includes smoked pork chops and apfelstrudel, and Das Boot — a 2-liter drinking vessel shaped like it sounds — all under a big outdoor tent.
Details: 5-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 22-Oct. 14; no cover charge.
Find it: 2300 University Av. NE., Mpls., gasthofzg.com, 612-781-3860.
Oktoberfiesta at Pajarito: When it opened this year, this Mexican restaurant replaced Glockenspiel, the longest-operating Czech-Slovak Hall in the U.S. — and the new owners are going back to the building’s roots with this bonanza. Expect the mashup to incorporate both cultures’ flavors, such as brats with chorizo-style spices and German chocolate tamales.
Details: 3 p.m.-midnight Sept. 30; free admission.
Find it: 605 W. 7th St., St. Paul, facebook.com/pajaritostp, 651-340-9545.
Surlyfest at Surly Brewing Co: The 10th annual showdown will feature live music — including the 4onthefloor and Caroline Smith — games and activities, a food lineup that includes Reuben frites, German-engineered tacos and a pork schnitzel sandwich, and of course this year’s Oktoberfest-style brew, a dry-hopped rye lager on draft.
Details: Sept. 23, beginning at 11 a.m.; admission is free, ticket packages range from $10-$60.
Find it: 520 Malcolm Av. SE., Mpls., surlybrewing.com, 763-999-4040.
New Ulm Oktoberfest: Long a destination for German immigrants, New Ulm has become home to perhaps one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations nationwide — at least that’s what the town claims. Think indoor/outdoor band stages, horse-drawn trolley rides, the famous Schell’s Beer Wagon and polkas galore.
Details: Oct 6-7 and 13-14, with events throughout the day.
Find it: Various locations near downtown New Ulm, newulm oktoberfest.com, 1-888-463-9856.
Geilfest! at Travail Kitchen & Amusements: One thing that isn’t oft debated: Travail knows a little something about shenanigans. This time around, the gastro-driven antics involve interactive food stations and pie- and bratwurst-eating contests (not at the same time), plus “surprise” cocktails.
Details: 4-10 p.m. Sept. 23; tickets are $125.
Find it: 4124 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, travailkitchen.com, 763-535-1131.
Oktoberfest at Black Forest Inn: Another Twin Cities classic, Black Forest Inn’s fete includes alphorns, accordions and theme nights — dumpling night, yodeling night and fake German accent night, for starters — for each of the 10 daysthe party lasts.
Details: Sept. 29-Oct. 8, various hours; no cover charge.
Find it: 1 E. 26th St., Mpls., black forestinnmpls.com, 612-872-0812.