Monday, September 18th, 2017
Celebrate Oktoberfest Near Bellingham, WA in 2017
Brandon Fralic

A harvest festival celebrated since the early 1800’s, Oktoberfest is traditionally held during the month of September in Germany. Here in the Northwest, we mix it up, with some Oktoberfest events starting in September, and others held in October. It doesn’t make sense, and that’s ok. Because in Bellingham, Oktoberfest events are as good a reason as any to gather with friends over German-style lagers in the Biergarten.

In 2017, Oktoberfest events will be held over three weekends in and near Bellingham, WA, Sept. 22 to Oct. 14, 2017. From biers-on-the-bay to a 35-year-old fundraiser for loggers, there’s a Fest for everyone. Here’s where to celebrate throughout Whatcom County.

The Events

Oktoberfest Cruises

September 22+23, 6-8:30pm

Join Boundary Bay Brewery aboard San Juan Cruises’ Victoria Star 2 for a cruise featuring a variety of fall harvest beers from local breweries. German bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato salad and other selections will be on the menu, all served to the tune of festive music. These 1.5-hour cruises depart each evening at 6:30 and tend to sell out in advance, so grab a ticket ($49) while you can. Check out our Brewers Cruise review for more info!

Oktoberfest at Kulshan 

September 23, 6-9pm

Seven Bellingham breweries (Aslan, Boundary Bay, Menace, Kulshan, Wander, Stone’s Throw, and Chuckanut) have teamed up to host their very own Oktoberfest this year at Kulshan’s K2 location. That’s right, seven breweries. This is essentially a mini brewers festival, disguised as “Oktoberfest”. So dance on down to K2, where the beer floweth from liter steins and live music keeps the party going. There’s a costume contest, too, so don’t forget to rock your finest German garb.  

Bellingham Oktoberfest 2017

October 7, 6-10pm

Posted by The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County on Monday, August 7, 2017

Not to be outdone, Bellingham Oktoberfest 2017 will feature access to over 15 different brews from seven Washington breweries. Aslan, Boundary Bay, Elysian, Kulshan, Melvin, Stone’s Throw, and Bale Breaker will be on hand for a nice mix of beers from Bellingham and further afield. Admission ($25 advance, $30 at the door) includes two tasting steins and a pretzel. Local band The Dagwoods will perform throughout the evening. It all goes down at Bellingham Technical College Settlemyer Hall, with proceeds benefiting the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County.

Deming Log Show Oktoberfest

October 13+14, 12pm-1am

Hefty litre steins smash against solid tables, voices raise in hoarse cries of ‘Gsuffa’ (drink) as thousands link arms, swaying like wheat fields in a prairie wind to the brassy sounds of oompah bands. Dumplings, sausages, potatoes, red cabbage, and huge pork hocks arrive with more steins…The familiar song echoes overhead ‘Ein prosit…ein prosit…’

So begins the ode to Munich Oktoberfest on page 27 of the 2017 Deming Log Show Oktoberfest pamphlet. Not to be confused with the traditional German celebration described above, Deming’s festivities are a little less raucous and a lot closer to home. But that doesn’t change the fact that Whatcom County’s longest-running Oktoberfest celebration — now in its 35th year — offers much merriment in the form of singalong songs, dance, food, and drink.

Held each year on the second full weekend of October, Deming Oktoberfest opens at high noon on Friday before closing out late Saturday evening. Each day, attendees enjoy live music from the Tillamook, Oregon-based Polkatones band — a traveling ensemble decked out in dirndls and lederhosen. Also out of Oregon, the Tirolean Dancers provide evening entertainment in between Polkatones’ sets.

Admission ($12 advance, $13 at the door) includes a free souvenir stein, parking, and camping. Proceeds benefit Busted Up Loggers, to support families of loggers who have been injured or killed on the job. And did I mention there will be lots of beer? In summary, the Deming Log Show Oktoberfest is an excellent excuse to celebrate the season for a great cause. Prost!

The Beer

Most Bellingham breweries will concoct their own version of a fall harvest or Oktoberfest bier this season. We’d love to list them all. Yet when it comes to European-style lagers, one local brewery is the undisputed king around these parts: Chuckanut Brewery. So amidst the festivities, take a minute to seek out their Festbier or Old Fest. Not sure how to tell between the two? Chuckanut explains it best:

Different from the regular Chuckanut Fest Bier (more of a Dortmunder style lager like the ones served at Germany’s Oktoberfest), Old Fest lager is maltier and more rich in flavor with an appetizing bitterness that serves to balance rather than challenge the malt underpinnings of this traditional lager. Toasty, malty sweetness and the firm bitterness makes this traditional old style Oktoberfest bier very appetizing! With a 6% ABV it’s deceptively smooth and easy to drink.

Also, see our Beer page for more posts about Bellingham Craft Beer.

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About the Author:

Freelance writer Brandon Fralic has called Bellingham home since 2006. He writes about the outdoors, travel, and craft beer for a variety of regional publications. In 2013, Brandon co-founded Beers at the Bottom to highlight trails and ales in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.