by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Erich Hacker and Sarah Curls of the Tyrolean Dancers demonstrate the Zillertaler. For an authentic Bavarian fall festival experience, some folks travel far and wide in late September. But for many, closer is better – and you don’t have to travel far to find it!

Some 25,000 revelers flocked to Inner Southeast’s nonprofit and historic Oaks Amusement Park, on the weekend of September 21st through 23rd, to enjoy the 2012 edition of “Oktoberfest”.

One of the guests seated in the main “festhalle” – a giant tented pavilion – asked the event’s perennial “Fräulein host” Emily MacKay, “What year is this, at Oaks Park?”

“What year?” MacKay winked and quipped back, “Its 2012! Maybe it’s time to ease off of the beer!”

With that, everyone at the table broke out in laughter, and someone called out a toast, taken from the German drinking song/chant “Ein Prosit”: “Ziggy zaggy, ziggy zaggy!” to which the others replied with glasses raised, “Hoy hoy hoy!”

“Actually it’s our 22nd annual event,” MacKay proudly said.

“What makes our Oktoberfest different from most others,” the hostess explained, “is that Oaks Park is all about families. We have family events all day long. And, kids can go anywhere in the venue with their parents, all the way until midnight.”

It’s become an endearing way to welcome in the fall season, MacKay remarked, because of the “three B’s – beers, brats, and bands. People from all over the greater Portland region know they can have a fun, family-oriented, authentic Oktoberfest experience.”

The Oaks Amusement Park’s staff clearly enjoys hosting one of Portland’s best weekend-long parties – which also contributes to the festive atmosphere.

Whether taking in the “wiener dog races”, watching cooking demonstrations, or browsing among the vendors in the “Village Square” – or simply taking one last turn on the park’s thrill rides for the season – the Oaks’ Oktoberfest has clearly become a Portland family tradition. If you missed it this year, look for it again next September at “The Oaks”.