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Published September 23, 2013, 10:29 PM

Oktoberfest celebrations on tap for F-M

FARGO – It’s the season of Oktoberfest celebrations, and there are plenty of options old and new to celebrate German culture here at home.

By: Ryan Johnson, INFORUM

FARGO – It’s the season of Oktoberfest celebrations, and there are plenty of options old and new to celebrate German culture here at home.

Beer tastings and downtown events will once again bring the annual Bavarian celebration to the masses this week, and a new culture day and dinner at the Hjemkomst Center will focus on the full range of culture, food and beverages from the country.

Fargo also will gain a new German-inspired pub and restaurant later this fall, bringing European food and drafts downtown all year round.

Sample the brews

Local events kick off Thursday with Happy Harry’s annual Oktoberfest and fall beer tasting, set for 5 to 7 p.m. at its south Fargo store at 1621 45th St. SW.

General Manager Dustin Mitzel said the bottle shop will feature 50 to 70 brews at the tasting, which is free and open to those 21 and older. Bread and cheese also will be served.

The event gives customers a chance to try the latest seasonal fall beers and sample some Oktoberfest brews, too – but Mitzel said it can be hard to reserve some of the beers from thirsty customers who have been waiting all year for the seasonal favorites that often get released in August.

“The market can just sell a ton of them and by the time you get to the end of September and you’re going to do a tasting, you might have three or four things that you would’ve loved to have tasted but there really isn’t any inventory to do it anymore,” he said.

Operations Manager Nate Honrath said Oktoberfest is the season when customers become “really adventurous,” willing to purchase obscure German or domestic seasonal brews to see if the U.S. can match up to the brewers of Europe.

“You see more than any other season people buying multiple brands,” he said. “All the time, instead of buying two cases of the same beer or a couple different 12-packs, you’ll see eight six-packs in somebody’s cart, and they’ll all be different.”

Downtown events

The annual Oktoberfest festivities in downtown Fargo return Friday and Saturday with a pub crawl, beer garden and running of the wiener dogs.

The event, which started in 2009, officially kicks off this year at 4 p.m. Friday with the keg-tapping ceremony followed by a pre-party at the Old Broadway until 10 p.m.

Oktoberfest is back Saturday with a downtown pub crawl, games, vendors, costume contest and beer gardens in front of the Old Broadway, all starting at 11 a.m.

A root beer fest for patrons of all ages at the Old Broadway will take place from noon to 2 p.m., followed by a hot dog eating contest at the Old Broadway at 2 p.m.

The running of the wiener dogs kicks off at 4 p.m.

For more information, visit http://oktoberfestfargo.com.

Day of culture

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County is taking over Moorhead’s Hjemkomst Center on Saturday for a full day of culture, food and beverages hailing from Germany.

The society’s first-ever German Culture Day runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a variety of family-friendly entertainment to celebrate the season.

But Marketing Coordina-tor Gwen McCausland said the event will focus on the full range of traditional and contemporary German culture, not just the Bavaria-heavy focus of many Oktoberfest celebrations in the U.S.

“There’s a lot of stereotypes that goes with Germany, that it’s all lederhosen and cuckoo clocks,” she said. “That’s just one part of Germany, and there’s a lot more to Germany.”

The free culture day will include traditional music and dance, crafts and children’s activities, and a variety of authentic German foods, beers and wines will be available for purchase.

The Historical and Cultural Society will put on its first Rhineland Dinner fundraiser at 6 p.m. Saturday also at the Hjemkomst. A four-course meal, with a smoked pork chop served on a bed of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and a bratwurst and Riesling wine sauerkraut for the main course, will be served to as many as 150 people who purchased $50 tickets for the event before last week’s deadline.

McCausland said both events will help introduce area residents to more of the culture of Germany, a country to which many area resident have ties.

“We chose Germany this year because the German ethnic group is the second-largest group that has settled in the Clay County and Red River Valley area,” she said, behind only Scandinavians.

If the culture day and fundraiser dinner are successful, she said they could become annual events.

German grub

A new German and European-style pub and restaurant that’s coming to the Cityscapes Plaza in downtown Fargo won’t be ready to open its doors in time for the Oktoberfest festivities this weekend.

Still, owner Bert Meyers said the Wurst Bier Hall will have its own German party whenever it’s ready to host diners and drinkers.

“We’re going to do an Oktoberfest party the day we open, no matter when it is,” he said.

Meyers said he and the other owners, his wife, Lisa Meyers, and brother, Klaus Meyers, hope to get a construction permit from the city in the coming days to start transforming the vacant retail space at 630 1st Ave. N. into the new pub and restaurant.

They’re aiming to open for business in late October or early November, he said.

The beer hall’s menu will be “sausage heavy,” and Burt Meyers expects there will be plenty of German brews among the 36 beers on tap.

The restaurant will also feature other European foods like borscht and pirogues, and several menu items will be served with a “little twist” – like the several exotic sausages, including alligator, rabbit and elk.

The pub also will carry tamer choices like burgers, and Meyers said foods inspired by the immigrants who settled in Minnesota’s Iron Range also will be on the menu, including a porketta sandwich, made with heavily seasoned pork roast,

Fargo-Moorhead is ready for the mix of European delicacies and modern twists that the Wurst Bier Hall aims to provide.

“I’ve gained a lot of weight coming up with these things,” he said, laughing. “They’re delicious.”