Two local festivals are expected to take place in the coming days, each with food as a centerpiece and with new coronavirus safety protocols in place to bring them back.
This Friday (October 22) marks the return of the region’s oldest and biggest Oktoberfest celebration after a two-year hiatus in the pandemic. It continues every Friday and Saturday through November 13, with home-style German food, dozens of beers and other libations, live music and family activities, from a dog parade to a costume contest ( see details below).
It is the flagship event of Deutsches Haus, the almost century-old German cultural club. It takes place outside on the grounds around his clubhouse along the Bayou St. John.
The club started planning Oktoberfest this year when the pandemic seemed to be abating and many other festivals were filling the fall calendar. Most of them were canceled when the Delta variant ravaged Louisiana.
But Deutsches Haus executives have remained cautiously optimistic about continuing their own smaller-scale outdoor event, and they are now on the verge of doing so.
To enter the field, anyone 12 years of age or older will need to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result. This complies with a city requirement for outdoor events of 500 people or more when attendance is greater than 50% of the capacity of an outdoor venue. Low capacity external events do not require proof of vaccination.
Deutsches Haus has a lot of space around its grounds. But with reasonable certainty that people will gather near the stage and the food and drink stalls, club president Brian Huber said the group has decided to take the safer route.
Best taco returns
Another local food festival, Top Taco, also returns later this month with the same proof of vaccination requirement in place. He also missed two years on his usual dates.
Normally held on the shores of New Orleans in the spring, this year’s Top Taco is October 28 at Lafrenière Park in Metairie.
With no mask warrant or restrictions on the size of events in Jefferson Parish or any other part of Louisiana outside of New Orleans, the vaccination requirement was a voluntary decision. Event producer Shane Finkelstein has said he wants to show a way to continue events during the pandemic.
The event aims to raise funds for the PLEASE Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides young people with mentorship and scholarships to obtain a college education. The group had already enrolled new students this year, partly relying on Top Taco recipes. This gave Top Taco new impetus to find a way forward.
The event will cap attendance at 3,500 people, and the grounds will be landscaped to encourage open foot traffic and less congregation. The event has live bands, but unlike a music festival, Top Taco’s main attraction is the food, served at dozens of individual stalls that can be spread across the park. Tickets for Top Taco include all food and drink (see details below).
Finkelstein heard some people say they wouldn’t participate because of the policy, but he said tickets sold out quickly and he was encouraged by the positive comments he had received from others.
“I think people are really excited because there hasn’t been a festival for so long,” he said.
Make plans, progress
At Oktoberfest, people will also find more food stalls spread across the grounds, instead of a central catering tent as usual.
Like pretty much everything else under the sun right now, supply chain issues and price increases made planning for Oktoberfest difficult.
Fortunately, said club manager Jack Gonzales, the volunteer-intensive event can always count on people dedicated to its success. After two years without a real Oktoberfest in New Orleans, they are more eager than ever to attend.
“It is the backbone of our ability to organize a festival,” he said. “They make it possible.”
Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest
1700 Moss Street
22, 23 Oct, 29, 30 Oct, 5, 6 Nov, 12, 13 Nov
Fridays from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Admission: $ 10 (11 years old and under free)
Beer: In addition to a dozen imported German beers, look for local specialty beers, including an Oktoberfest from Faubourg Beer (served only at the festival and in the Faubourg’s own tasting room), a dunkel (brown lager) from NOLA Brewing and a range of German-style beers from Urban South Brewery. There is also German wine and schnapps.
The food: hearty, house-style German platters with dishes that change every weekend, as well as snacks, street food, and desserts, like pretzels, bratwurst sausage, and apple strudel.
Schauzer spacer dog costume parade (all types of dogs accepted), Oct. 30, 3 p.m.
Friendly and family Halloween costume contest, Oct. 30, 5:50 p.m.
Dachshund races, November 13 (time to be confirmed)
Masskrugstemmen (beer mug holding contest, several times a day)
Schnitzelbank traditional German song, several times a day
“Chicken dance song, “daily, and more or less indefinitely
See details and group times on oktoberfestnola.com
When: October 28
Where: Parc Lafrenière, 300 boul. Downs, Farm
Tickets cost $ 75, $ 95 (for early entry) and $ 125 (VIP).
The tacos: from local restaurants across the spectrum, from high end restaurants to food trucks, compete for prizes in different categories and bring their A game. Tickets include all food and drink.
Tequila: Restaurants and bars also compete for cocktail prices, and the event sees fun promotions and stalls from top tequila brands.
Luche Libre wrestling fight
The day of the Dead costume contest
Live music by Otra, Muevelo and (in the VIP area) Darcy Malone and the Tangle
After the party after the festival at 5216 Tap & Table (5216 Veterans Blvd.) with DJs, free admission
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