Great Northwest Oktoberfest returns

Whitefish hosts two frisky weekends of Bavarian food, drink and fun, Sept. 27-Oct. 6

New & Notable
Oktoberfest: Ladies stein holding
Women sling full steins in the Ladies Stein-Holding competition.Photo © Whitefish Chamber of Commerce

“Whitefish and Oktoberfest go together like, well, like brats and beer,” says Kevin Gartland, executive director of the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce.

“After another long, smoky summer, it’s a chance for our community to get together, enjoy the fantastic fall weather and become the ‘Munich of the Mountains.’”

That means crowning a new Hop Queen, tapping a few (hundred) kegs, doing the Chicken Dance, sawing a few logs and enjoying brats, beer and Bavarian-style hospitality “that’s unlike any you’ll find this side of Munich.”

The ninth annual Great Northwest Oktoberfest is set for Sept. 27-Oct. 6 at Depot Park in downtown Whitefish … that’s seven nights (and two days) of authentic Bavarian food, drink, music and dancing, and the wildest array of audience participation contests that the Flathead Valley has ever seen!

Three great bands will provide non-stop oompah, polka, waltz, western swing, classic rock and other great dance music throughout the festival, with one of America’s most sought-after Oktoberfest bands – Europa – entertaining the masses each night Sept. 27-29.

The following week, Canada’s polka legends – The Western Senators – will play under the Oktoberfest Bigtop on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and will also make an appearance at the Firebrand Hotel on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for the 2018 Hop Queen Qualifiers. On Saturday afternoons it’s the Bavarian Echoes, the Flathead’s own Bavarian brass band.

Fame and fortune await Oktoberfest contest winners

Each night at Oktoberfest, participants are invited to get “into the act” by joining in one of the hourly contests on (and around) the Main Stage. Log-sawing, stein-holding, keg-hurling, mountain-climbing … just pick your shot, and show us what you got!

Back to defend his title this year will be six-time Whitefish Stein-Holding champion Kevin Collom, who last week competed in the U.S. Masskrugstemmen (Stein-Holding) Championships in New York City. This year’s champ will be crowned on the last night of Oktoberfest – Saturday Oct. 6 – with the victor winning a trip to the National Semifinals in Las Vegas next summer. The winner of that competition goes to the finals in New York next September, and the U.S. champ wins an all-expense paid trip for two to Munich, Germany.

Kid-friendly Oktoberfest
Kids’ Day at Oktoberfest on Saturday, Sept. 29, brings plenty of family-friendly fun.Photo © Whitefish Chamber of Commerce

Kids’ Day at Oktoberfest

Saturday afternoon, Sept. 29, brings family-style fun co-hosted by the Whitefish Parks Department, including a bounce house for the young ’uns to explore, a climbing wall, face-painting, the Kids’ Chicken Dancing Championships on the main dance floor, and other activities geared toward the young … and the young at heart.

Ride the Whitefish Trail … to Oktoberfest!

On Whitefish Trail Night, Oct. 4, a portion of the gate proceeds benefits Whitefish Legacy Partners, the non-profit group that spearheads development of the Whitefish Trail system. A crew of ‘Partners’ will man the bar that night, and tips go to the trails project. They’ll also recruit participants for the Whitefish Trail Legacy Run, which is set for Sunday, Oct. 7.

Also set for Thursday Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. is the crowning of the 2018-19 Hop Queen, accompanied by all of the pomp and circumstance befitting the coronation of the Royal Matriarch of Oktoberfest. For details on the event – or to throw your crown in the ring– call the Whitefish Chamber at 406-862-3501, or visit

Authentic Bavarian food and brews

Make no mistake about it, two of the “stars of the show” at Oktoberfest are the food and the beer, and this year’s menu at the Oktoberfest Bar (and Grille) is as German as it gets!

Manning the Oktoberfest kitchen this year will be the folks at Huckepack BBQ (known the other 50 weeks of the year as Piggyback BBQ), serving up German sausages and other delicacies in true Bavarian style, all delivered with sauerkraut, potato salad, sweet & sour cabbage and more.

Fleur Bakery offers a variety German-themed desserts, while Sweet Peaks Ice Cream scoops up a few special fall-themed flavors.

Of course, what would Oktoberfest be without great beer. The Munich-based Hofbrau Brewery is back for 2018, pouring their original Hofbrau Lager, Dunkel and Oktoberfest lager, all produced by one of the most legendary beer makers in the world. Hofbrauhaus translates literally to “Royal Beer Factory” – a fitting description for one of the original Munich Oktoberfest breweries.

Not to be outdone, the hometown brew-meisters at the Great Northern Brewing Company put their best foot forward with their 2018 Oktoberfest lager, and the ever-popular Wheatfish, Frog Hop Pale Ale and Jorts Munich lager.

Wine drinkers can choose from chardonnay, cabernet or reisling, and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.

When, where and how much?

Oktoberfest hours are 5-11 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and noon-11 p.m. Saturdays, Sept. 27-Oct. 6. The Firebrand Lodge hosts the Hop Queen Qualifier, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3.

The Great Northwest Oktoberfest takes place in Depot Park, at the corner of Central Avenue and Railway Street in downtown Whitefish. Admission is $5 for adults, with kids under 12 (accompanied by parents) admitted free. And don’t worry about the weather … come sunshine, rain, sleet or snow, it’ll be toasty under the climate-controlled Oktoberfest Bigtop.

For more information, call the Whitefish Chamber at 406-862-3501, or check out the event website at