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by Nancy Pitman

If you dream of Munich’s Oktoberfest, but you aren’t eager to spend 12 hours or more on a plane to get there, you’ll find Oregon’s Mount Angel Oktoberfest the perfect alternative.

You really will feel as if you’re wandering around an Alpine village in the heart of Germany. Sausages sizzle on red hot grills.  Meticulously painted Bavarian Frescoes adorn the shops. And Mount Angel’s rolling green hills provide a nearly authentic  backdrop for this 4-day festival, which starts September 13, 2007.

A tradition begun in Germany as the wedding reception for King Ludwig and his wife, Therese (Ludwig is immortalized for his grandiose castles throughout Bavaria), the festivities haven’t lost much punch in their trek across the Atlantic.

At the Mount Angel Oktoberfest, you can dig your teeth into a hot spicy sausage loaded with sauerkraut, feel the heat with fresh-made onion petals in chipotole sauce, and then cool off with strawberry shortcakes that drip with fruit. Wash it all down with an ice cold brew, and for the kids, a tangy raspberry lemonade.   

You can take a break from food and drink by enjoying the number of planned events, starting with a May Pole dance in front of the Salem Capitol Building. Children are dressed in their Bavarian best, dancing with streaming colorful ribbons wrapped around a decorated May Pole.

Then, you can cheer your favorite dog all the way to the finish line at the Weenie Dog Races. Afterwards, roar with laughter as you flap your wings trying to dance the infamous Chicken Dance, the official dance of this Oktoberfest. Also, plan to see a number of vintage and custom cars at the Cruz-n Car Show.

You can even gorge yourself on tantalizing fruit filled pastries as you hang out at the largest Glockenspiel in the United States.  The classic hand-carved German timepiece was added last year. Watch whimsical Bavarian clad children emerge from the top of the clock on a swing to the tune of “Edelweiss.” A wily, mustached Tuba player dressed to the hilt in lederhosen will belt out oooooooooompas.  As in Europe, people can gather around the clock at 11a.m., 1, 4 and 7 p.m. to watch this imaginative display of animation.

For an evening filled with glass clanking camaraderie and energetic, foot-stomping alpine music, stop by the Weingarten for a night of down home festivity.  You don’t want to miss the Original Donaumusikanten Band. This world-class Bavarian band is flown in from Germany to keep you laughing, dancing and singing along until the wee hours of the morning.

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