Sarnia Oktoberfest: Strike up the accordion and break out the lederhosen

The John Gora Band of Burlington is bringing its own brand of polka music to Sarnia’s Oktoberfest this fall. Submitted Photo

Cathy Dobson

Hot on the heels of a very successful Beer Show during Artwalk, plans are under way to hold Sarnia’s first downtown Oktoberfest.

“We were really surprised when the Beer Show brought in about 1,500 people over two days,” said Chris Lewis of Storyboard Cultural Community Endeavors.

That’s the non-profit group that organizes The Beer Show and The Festival of Good Things.

“We want to create events for Sarnia-Lambton and promote good times,” said Lewis.

“We’d been thinking about an Oktoberfest for a while and when we saw The Beer Show do so well, we thought we should go for it.”

Like the Beer Show, Sarnia’s Oktoberfest will be in the Bayside Centre. Lewis said cosmetic improvements will make it more conducive to a whole lot of oompah-pa bands and lederhosen.

“We’re planning a traditional Oktoberfest event that will coincide with First Friday in October,” said Lewis.  “That means people will be coming down anyway, and it will be a win for us and a win for the community.”

Sarnia’s Oktoberfest is planned for Oct. 2-3 and doesn’t coincide with Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo, the epicentre of Oktoberfest in Ontario.

Lewis is busy locating and hiring polka bands, but it hasn’t been as easy as expected.

“It’s kind of hard to find them,” he said. “There’s not a ton around.”

But he has lined up The Polka Maestre Band from London and Burlington’s six-piece John Gora Band.  Sarnia’s own Eric Ethridge and his band will also perform new country.

Lewis said his non-profit group hopes to attract at least 1,000 people the first year. Draft beer from craft breweries will be available, including one specially made for Oktoberfest by the Refined Fool brewery in Sarnia.

Storyboard Cultural Community Endeavors stands on its own, but several of its organizers are also affiliated with a downtown Sarnia marketing firm called Storyboard Solutions, and The Refined Fool Brewing Company.

A Facebook page for Sarnia’s Oktoberfest is up and tickets go on sale Aug. 1.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Sarnia’s first Oktoberfest

WHEN: Oct. 2 and 3.

WHERE: Bayside Centre, Christina Street.

TICKETS:  $10, or $25 for a weekend pass and an official Sarnia Oktoberfest beer mug. Online sales start Aug. 1 at sarniaoktoberfest.com