The year was 1810, the place Munich. It was then that the world’s largest Volkfest (beer festival and traveling fair) saw its inception. For 16 to 18 days, from mid-September to early October, more than 6 million people attend this annual beer-fest celebrating Bavarian culture in the place where it all began.
But what if you’ve run out of PTO and can’t make your way to the capital of Oktoberfest?
San Francisco’s oldest German restaurant — which was founded in 1893 and moved into its current Financial District location after the 1906 earthquake and fire — is pulling out all the stops over six consecutive weekends. The event drew a whopping 1,500 people last year, and promises to go big for the 184th Oktoberfest celebration. (The festival was cancelled several of the years due to related wars, inflation, and other non-negotiable factors.)
This Friday, Sept. 15, from 3 to 8 p.m., don your lederhosen and dirndls for a kick-off at Schroeder’s featuring live music by WonderBread 5 (beginning at 5 p.m.), dancing, traditional German fare, and, of course, Bavarian brews. Admission is free at this 21-and-over event, although you can buy tokens in advance, where all of Front Street will be closed off to create an outdoor Bavarian beer hall complete with communal tables and plenty of room for beer guzzling.
Try your luck at stein holding contests, Polka dancing, and the traditional Danish “chicken dance.” Drink liter after liter of German beers until you can no longer pronounce their names (we urge you to try pronouncing “Weihenstephaner” even while sober). At 8 p.m, the party moves indoors with DJ Jerry Ross. Nosh on bratwurst and pretzels and head back in every Saturday (through Oct. 21) to keep the party going.
And did you know that the German word for “party” is “Party”? Prost!
Sept. 23: Music by Schwabenland
Sept. 29: Music by Excelsior Swing
Oct. 7: Music by Blowmusik
Oct. 14: Music by Joe Smiell
Oct. 21: Music by Polkalicious
Schroeder’s Oktoberfest Kickoff, Friday, Sept. 15, 3 p.m., 240 Front St., 415-421-4778 or schroederssf.com