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Plates piled high with schnitzel, bratwurst and sauerkraut. Steins upon sloshing steins of beer. Chicken dancing and polkaing galore. Confirmed: Oktoberfest season is here.

It’s no surprise that this revelrous Bavarian funfair has become a tradition in the United States. While no Oktoberfest on U.S. soil can match the scale of Munich’s 182-year-old festival, there are several celebrations that draw huge crowds of both locals and out-of-towners alike.

Traditionally, Oktoberfest season kicks off mid-September, which means many of the country’s largest fests have already come and gone. But there’s still time to get your Oktoberfest fix. These festivals, some of the largest Oktoberfests in America, kick off this month across the county.

Leavenworth, Washington

Located in the foothills of the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth, Washington already has the look and feel of an old alpine German village — complete with a Bavarian-style town center and architecture. This sets the scene for a picturesque and authentic Oktoberfest celebration.

Projekt Bayern, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the area’s Old World Bavarian theme, organized the first Oktoberfest in 1998 and welcomed 400 visitors. Last year, 50,000 people experienced the fest’s live entertainment, food and beer. With performance groups from the U.S., Canada, Germany and Slovenia and eight German beers on tap, this year’s fest promises to be Leavenworth’s largest yet.

Photo by Stephanie Fry Photography.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Fry Photography.

When: Weekends of 10/2-10/3, 10/9-10/10 and 10/16-10/17, 2015

Cost: $10 on Fridays, $10 on Saturdays. Free admission for members of the military and children under the age of 12 with paid adult.

Don’t Miss: The Keg Tapping Ceremony at 1:00 p.m. every Saturday. Leavenworth’s mayor leads the Bavarian tradition of the tapping the keg.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma pulls out all the stops to transform 14 acres along the Arkansas River into a beer-drinking, chicken-dancing, schnitzel-eating celebration of Bavarian culture. Celebrating its 37th year, Linde Oktoberfest Tulsa packs a lot into the 4-day festival.

Choose from more than 60 beers to fill your commemorative Maßkrug, the German-style one-liter stein. Or take it easy with a new offering this year: the half-liter KleinKrug stein. Pile your plate high with local Siegi’s sausage, bratwurst pizza and Ländjager (German beef jerky). While you’re chowing down, there’s plenty of live entertainment — bands from Germany’s Bavaria region, U.S. polka bands, andeven a master yodeler. And dancing. There will be lots of dancing. Did you know the Chicken Dance came into popularity at the 1981 Tulsa Oktoberfest? So expect to dust off your chicken dancing shoes, as it’s a major tradition here.

Photo by Propeller Communications.

Photo by Propeller Communications.

When: October 22-25, 2015

Cost: Adults: $7 in advance, $10at the gate. Free for children 12 and under

Don’t Miss: The Dachshund Dash, which is exactly what it sounds like: Adorable short-legged, long-bodied wiener dogs racing. The dash starts at 1:20 p.m. on Sunday, October 25 in the Linde Courtyard.

Related: These are the world’s messiest festivals.

New Braunfels, Texas

It all started in 1961 when city meat inspector Ed A. Grist had an idea. Why not organize a small festival for the community of New Braunfels, Texas to come together and enjoy local sausage?

Turns out there are far more sausage-hungry citizens in Texas — and beyond — than he imagined. 2,000 people showed up.

With roots tracing back all the way back to 1845 when Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, Germany settled the town, New Braunfels has a rich German heritage and throws several festivals throughout the year. But Wurstfest is the city’s crown jewel of festivals. Over the years, it’s expanded to “a 10-day salute to sausage” and draws crowds of up to 150,000.

With the expansion of the grounds in 2014 and the opening of the new Stelzenplatz to house vendors, two beer gardens with 35 beers on draft, music, carnival rides, and a fleet of food trucks, there’s plenty to stay entertained. Of course, be sure to sample as much sausage as humanly possible. There’s even a Wursthalle — a ginormous hall where everyone gathers to eat — where you can revel in all of Wurstfest’s sausagey goodness.

Photo by Johannes Arlt.

Photo by Johannes Arlt.

When: November 6-15, 2015

Cost: $10 for adults, free for children 12 and under. Look for coupons and discounts as the festival approaches.

Don’t Miss: One of four Masskrugstemmen beer stein holding competitions. The traditional Bavarian endurance contest entails holding a full one-liter stein of beer in one outstretched arm as long as possible. Any spillage is an immediate disqualification. Think you got what it takes? The world record is 19 minutes.

Related: Check out these 19 other travel-worthy fall events.

Big Bear, California

How did one of the longest running Oktoberfest celebrations land in the West Coast? In 1969, German immigrants Hans and Erika Bandows moved from New York to Big Bear, California and spent their entire savings on purchasing a lodge for travelers. After surviving a rough winter, business was struggling. They thought a good German party might attract guest to visit during the off-season. It’s been going, and growing, ever since.

This year, Big Bear is expecting at least 25,000visitors to commemorate its 45th Oktoberfest. Guests come not only for the German bands, brats and beer, but also to enjoy weekend in the crisp, mountain air surrounded by pine trees. “Mother Nature provides the venue, we provide the party!” says owner Monica Marini — who grew up attending Big Bear Oktoberfest and is the daughter of the Bandows.

In addition to traditional dishes like bratwursts, sauerkraut and apple strudel, each weekend is jam-packed with musical entertainment, events and contests. Compete in log sawing, stein holding or beer drinking — with non-alcoholic O’Doul’s to keep things from getting too rowdy.
There’s a little something for everyone along the Budenstrasse (Avenue of Booths). Ride Samson, the mechanical bull, get a psychic reading, shop from vendors selling items like African drums Peruvian crafts, and play carnival games.

Big Bear Oktoberfest

Photo by Big Bear Oktoberfest.

When: Every weekend thru October 31, 2015

Cost: $14-18 per adult, Free-$9 for children. Pricing depends on the day. Discounted senior pricing.

Don’t Miss: A tradition since the first fest, the Queen Stein Carrying Contest was inspired by the beer maids of Munich beer tents who would carry handfuls of full beer steins in each hand.

In Big Bear, the prize title of queen goes to the woman who can carry the most steins at once.

Snowbird, Utah

The Oktoberfest celebration at Snowbird Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, 6 miles east of Salt Lake City, Utah, is as old as the resort itself. This year, the fest celebrates its 63rd year and will welcome over 60,000 visitors.

People come not only for the traditional German music, bratwurst, weisswurst, schnitzel, and other Bavarian food, and of course, the liters of beer. What Snowbird’s fest offers that others don’t is access to activities like the resort’s alpine slide, bungee trampoline and vertical drop.

When: Every Saturday and Sunday until October 11

Cost: Admission is free, but the additional alpine activities are cost $38-48 depending on height and age.

Don’t Miss: A group of alphorn players perform on Hidden Peak every day of the fest at 3:15 p.m. If you’ve never heard or seen these 12-foot long alpine horns, be sure to get at the top or in the Tram line by 2:30 p.m. so you don’t miss the performance.

Other Oktoberfest Festivals

Boston, Massachusetts: Harpoon Brewery | October 2-3, 2015 and Harvard Square Business Association | October 1, 2015

Charlotte, North Carolina | October 3, 2015

Cincinnati, Ohio Donauschwaben | October 2-4, 2015

Fredericksburg, Texas | October 2-4, 2015

Los Angeles, California | October 16-18

Milwaukee, Wisconsin | October 8-11, 2015

Newport, Rhode Island | October 17-18, 2015

Southwest Harbor, Maine | October 9-11, 2015

Torrance, California | Every weekend until October 25, 2015

discount airline tickets

Tagged: California, Family time

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Betsy Mikel

Betsy Mikel

Betsy is a freelance copywriter who enjoys collecting passport stamps, and has a lifelong obsession with French language and culture. When she's not biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym.

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