Road Trip: Big Bear Lake’s Oktoberfest Celebrates 49 Years

Summer is gone and that means foliage, pumpkin spice and… OKTOBERFEST!

Dan McKernan, big bear lake oktoberfest

The true spirit of Bavaria comes to life in Big Bear Lake for nine consecutive weekends, which started Saturday, September 7 and ends November 2, 2019. Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest represents Southern California's most authentic Oktoberfest, which takes pride in being the closest thing to the original celebration in Munich, Germany. Just like the original, Big Bear starts its celebration in September and goes into October (due to popular demand, it now stretches into November).

What really makes this Oktoberfest more special than others is Big Bear Lake is situated in an Alpine environment with evergreens trees, mountain vistas, and a town-square village. This environment naturally reflects the scenery and heritage of the Bavarian Alps of Germany. It is also the highest altitude Oktoberfest in the U.S. at 6,750'. 

To top it off, Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest was founded 49 years ago by German immigrants Hans and Erika Bandows. In recent years, the event has been handed off to their daughter Monica who keeps family traditions alive. Other key factors that puts Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest high on the charts for authenticity is the event brings four different bands from Bavaria, serves Warsteiner and Paulaner beer (imported from Germany), dance troupes perform customary dances, bratwurst is from a German butcher in Los Angeles, and fresh apple strudel is delivered weekly from a German bakery in Newport Beach!

LATF's Big Bear recap from Big Bear Lake's 48th Oktoberfest

Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest has a contest unlike any other in the country called the Queen Stein-Carrying Contest. The winning Oktoberfest queen works hard for her title. The woman who carries the most one-liter beer steins wins the queen title.  Past Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest queens have lifted and carried an average of 80 pounds in full beer steins. Some queens have carried more weight in beer steins than their own body weight! The Queen Stein-Carrying Contest semi-finals are Saturday, September 28 at 5 p.m. and the finals are Saturday, October 4 at 4 p.m.

Baumstamm Sägen (log sawing) competitions were part of Crown Prince Ludwig's wedding celebration in 1810 that inspired the original Oktoberfest in Munich. The Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest continues the tradition with multiple log sawing contests each day to test the might and agility of its patrons. Log Sawing consists of two-person teams that use an old-fashioned large saw-tooth saw placed on a sawhorse, and the team that cuts the log in half the quickest wins. 

Children's fun and games include kiddy mug holding matches and an enhanced kids' play area with multiple giant inflatables. Of course it wouldn't be an Oktoberfest without the Chicken Dance. Festivalgoers get into the action by flapping their arms and clucking away to the Chicken Dance.

The 49th Annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest is every weekend now through Saturday, November 2, 2019. The weekend festivities takes place at Big Bear Lake Convention Center, located at 42900 Big Bear Blvd. General admission ticket prices for Saturdays in September range from $17.99 to $23.99 for adults, $13.99 to $17.99 for seniors (62+), and $11 for children 12 and under. Saturdays in October range from $26.99 to $32.99 for adults, $18.99 to $23.99 for seniors (62+), and $11 for children 12 and under. Sunday admission prices are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors, and children 12 and under are FREE. Saturday, November 2nd is a special encore celebration with general admission tickets at $17.99 for adults, $13.99 for seniors (62+), and $11 for children 12 and under. Prices are subject to change on certain dates. It is highly recommended to pre-purchase tickets for all Saturdays in October.

For more details regarding tickets, Burgermeister Party Packs, and general information, log on to, or Facebook, or call 909-585-3000. 

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