Before the lifts begin turning for winter sports, resorts and towns in Summit cling to a few final festivals before saying goodbye to summer. Throughout September, towns around the High Country host Oktoberfest celebrations, and, this weekend, Keystone Resort will be hosting its family-friendly version of the event. The third annual Keystone Oktoberfest is Saturday, Sept. 5, and features a 5K race, Oompah bands, traditional German dance performers, seasonal craft brews and a variety of German fare.
DAS BIER BURNER 5K
First up on the lineup of events is the Das Bier Burner 5K Running Race. For this event, Keystone paired up with SummitCove.com to host, and Maja Russer, director of events and marketing for The Keystone Neighbourhood Company, said participants are highly encouraged to don their best Oktoberfest clothing (think lederhosen or dirndl, a type of traditional dress worn in southern Germany).
“They added a costume contest this year; we are really trying to encourage the fun, whimsical part of the run,” she said. “People got pretty creative last year. It was the first year (for the race) last year, and I was pretty impressed by what people came up with.”
The trophy for crossing the finish line is a New Belgium beer for runners 21 and over, along with one runner receiving a prize for best costume. Every runner will receive a free Oktoberfest Das Bier Burner 5K T-shirt, goody bag and food and beverages at the post-race celebration. Proceeds from the 5K benefit SOS Outreach, a youth development nonprofit that uses year-round, outdoor sports to engage underserved students in long-term, mentor-based relationships. When the 5K was added last year, it was really well-received, Russer said, and the number of runners who have registered this year has already surpassed the amount from last year.
OKTOBERFEST ENTERTAINMENT & GERMAN FARE
In the afternoon, Oktoberfest gets rowdy with traditional German dance performances from the Edelweiss Schuhplattlers and live music from Those Austrian Guys. Made up of ski instructors and immigrants to the U.S. from Austria, Those Austrian Guys have been providing Oktoberfest music around the county and state for years.
“They are the quintessential Oompah band and they do polka, lots of prost and cheers and the ‘Chicken Dance’ will be played probably several times throughout the day,” Russer said. “They are not afraid to repeat that one. … They are super happy, fun guys that love this kind of event and have been doing it the mountains for a long, long time.”
Keystone’s restaurants will be dishing up plates of traditional German fare with a mountain spin, including Bavarian sausage sliders, German dumplings, braised sauerbraten sandwiches and warm German potato salad. Because of judging competitions at previous Keystone festivals, Russer said the friendly rivalry has had restaurants bringing their A-game.
“Overall this summer, the restaurants have really stepped up their game when it comes to the food they are putting out at festivals,” she said. “I’ve heard tons of compliments. I also think they are all trying to get creative, and there’s been a nice competitive spirit.”
Keystone has several fine-dining establishments on the resort, including The Ranch, Ski Tip Lodge and the Alpenglow Stube, and Russer said the festivals give them a chance to highlight a taste of what those restaurants have to offer.
New Belgium will be serving up cold brews, and one highlight will be the Pumpkick — its fall seasonal beer featuring a pumpkin cranberry spice flavor. The brewery will also be offering its 1554 and Slow Ride Session IPA.
River Run Village merchants will be rolling out the racks on Saturday to get rid of summer inventory in preparation for incoming winter gear. Russer said there will be items anywhere from 20 to 40 percent off from outlets such as Christy Sports, Gorsuch and The North Face.
With a plethora of Oktoberfest celebrations in both Summit, nearby Eagle County and the Front Range, Russer said she was initially resistant to the idea of hosting one at Keystone. However, the event became very successful, she said, giving people a more family-friendly option when it comes to Oktoberfest. To keep the kids entertained, there will be face painting, crafts and a bounce house.
“We were looking to give people one more thing to do and come up for one more weekend in the mountains to cap off the summer season,” she said.