When thinking of beer and German culture, Cotati does not immediately come to mind. However, the German spirit was alive and well in Cotati on Saturday during the seventh annual Oktoberfest. The event was held downtown at La Plaza Park. The original Oktoberfest has been held in Munich, Germany for over 200 years, and it is a 16-day celebration that attracts around six million people every year.
Although it was much smaller than the original, the Cotati Oktoberfest was full of German culture. Festival attendees were dressed in their best German garb and enjoyed the afternoon in wonderful weather. The event was free to attend and guests had the option to buy a meal or beverage. All of the beer was donated by Lagunitas Brewing Company, and Friar Tuck’s Pub, Spancky’s Bar and North Bay Brewery Tours were sponsors of the event.
The Cotati Chamber of Commerce has been putting on the event for the past seven years. The members of the chamber were all smiles as they prepared and served food to the attendees of the festival. Mark Landman, the mayor of Cotati, poured beer for the eager guests. The 2012 festival drew over 500 people and this year’s celebration was an even bigger success.
“It gets better every year. This is the biggest turnout so far,” said Landman.
Twenty-two Sonoma State students volunteered this year. The students were from the History Club, German Club, and German 101 and 200 classes. The students helped set up and sell tickets, as well as serve food and drinks. They also checked IDs and gave stamps to those of drinking age and even helped clean up after the festival was over.
“We wanted to take some time to enrich the community as well as strengthen students’ relations,” said History Club President Jocoya Fox-Jones.
Helping with the festival was a way for students to volunteer and give something back to the broader community. They were able to show their support and dedication to the Cotati and Rohnert Park residents through service.
“Cotati Oktoberfest was a great outlet for people to not only snatch a beer and meal, but to capture German music, visuals and company,” said Fox-Jones.
The afternoon would have been incomplete without the music, which was provided by the Karl Lebherz Band. The members of the band are from Novato and they perform at Oktoberfests around the Bay Area.
After consuming an authentic German meal and drinking Lagunitas microbrews guest were able to participate in German themed activities.
“My favorite is definitely the wiener dog race,” said Landman.
The wiener dog race seemed to be a crowd favorite. Festival attendees were also able to enter a raffle, and test themselves in the tankard hoist and beer stein race.
Chamber of Commerce President Patrick McCarthy was pleased with the way the afternoon was unfolding.
“We have had all the right problems. The beer line was too long and we had to run to the store to get more food. Those are the types of problems you want to have,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy has been involved with the planning of the festival since its start in 2006.
“It is so nice to see people coming together and being a community,” said McCarthy. “In today’s society it is so easy to be detached from those around us. Having events like these bring people back together.”
The Cotati Chamber of Commerce holds events year round. In June they will host jazz festival, and in July there will be a Kid’s Day parade. The History Club will also continue to enrich the community with two other volunteer opportunities this semester.