For a good number of us in Ottawa, Monday was a trying day, dragging on as we nursed the aftereffects of participating in Oktoberfest festivities. Some of us gave the snooze button a little extra love yesterday morning. Others reached for the Advil or Tylenol. I brewed some extra strong coffee.
Suffice it to say, the weekend was a busy one in the National Capital Region. So many events came to pass: Beau’s Oktoberfest (held in Vankleek Hill), Oktoberfest Ottawa (held in Barrhaven), Harvest Noir, and Taboo Eats. The latter two food-related events were a popup guerrilla-style dinner and something akin to Toronto’s Underground Market (TUM), respectively. The inaugural Taboo Eats featured food prepared and served by home cooks and amateur chefs (mostly cooks who have yet to earn their Red Seals).
As last year, I signed up for a 6 hour shift, “volunbeering” for Beau’s Brewery. To date, three orange ball caps hang on a hook in the home office I share with my wife. These caps are issued to volunteers when we arrive at the Vankleek Hill Fair Grounds to help out with the signature fundraising event. During the event, you will see orange caps everywhere from the beer tents to the beer token tent, will call, concessions, activity area, and dish pit.
Beau’s is an inspiring locally-owned and family-operated brewery I am always proud to support. They make a good product that wins awards. They are community-oriented. They are about to grow, thanks to a recently announced provincial grant.
Last year, Oktoberfest raised over $60,000 for various charitable causes. This year, charitable partners include Operation Come Home, Just Food, and the Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society.
According to Creative Director Jordan Bamforth, during the volunteer meeting at the Clocktower Pub on Bank Street, the Beauschene family aimed to hit the $200,000 fundraising mark since Oktoberfest’s inception. This year’s Oktoberfest is the fifth annual.
And, it was quite the three-day celebration. Saturday’s tickets sold out weeks in advance. Friday and Sunday saw hundreds of people attend, drinking, eating, and enjoying the live music and games.
It was another celebration of food and culture. From dress to dance, there were German cultural underpinnings. There was a 20-piece Harmonie “Big Band”, playing live oompah music. Alpine horns, made memorable by “Ricola” lozenge commercials, were brought in. The Maple Leaf-Almrausch Schuhplattlers and Schuhplatergruppe Alpenland troupes performed traditional Bavarian Dancing, complete with a whip display.
Evenings were filled with live performances by local bands from Elliott Brood to Plants and Animals, Carolyn Mark and Terry Gillespie.
Games-wise, the annual kraut contest was replaced with a home-brew competition. The keg toss, spouse carrying race, sausage-eating contest, malt sack races, and stein holding struggle returned.
The grounds were organized much the same as last year with numerous beer dispensing stations under beer tents to protect revelers from the elements.
When said revelers were peckish, concessions, representing some of the best independent restaurants in the region, provided nibbles.
An Envirodish dish pit provided reusable dishware and cutlery. Attendees of the Ottawa Folk Festival will recognize Envirodish, its dishes, its cutlery, and the dish pit. Last year, Envirodish reduced waste such that Beau’s could not imagine not bringing it back.
The most popular bite, by far was Barley Mow’s Pulled Pork Perogie Poutine. Say that three-times fast! It was this concession that created a shortage on bowls. Envirodish was barely able to keep up with demand.
Beer-wise, Oktoberfest featured nine Beau’s brews on tap, seven made exclusively for the event (Weiss O’ Lantern (Pumpkinweiss), Vassar (Heirloom Ale), Dark Helmüt (Imperious Schwarzbier), Oktobock (Bock), Koru (Belgian Pale Ale), Zins Jo Kokot! (Kotbusser), And Boom Gose the Dynamite (Gose)). Additionally, thirty “one-off” cask ales from Ontario and Quebec craft breweries were made available. The craft breweries, who participated in this year’s “Cask Days”, hosted by Toronto’s barVolo, included Quebec’s Dieu Du Ciel; Ottawa’s Clocktower, Big Rig Brew, and Kichesippi; Barrie (Ontario)’s Flying Monkeys; Toronto’s Great Lakes Brewery; and Guelph’s Wellington County Brewery.
On Saturday, I re-acquainted myself with some old friends at The Piggy Market and Murray Street Kitchen, Wine, and Charcuterie. I met Chef Kent Van Dyk, who was working with the people behind Olivea Restaurant in Kingston. Van Dyk is the chef and teacher behind the ratehr impressive culinary program at Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School in Ottawa.
To Michaela Kealey, it was a pleasure working for you again.
To Beau’s, you threw yet another great event. Congrats!