I’m sure you already know this, but Oktoberfest is a 200 year old festival that originated in Munich, Germany in 1810. The first Oktoberfest was a big partay / shindig / hootenany for Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese, who had just gotten hitched. The first Oktoberfest was “wicked pawpyalah” and so they had another the next year. Everyone loved Oktoberfest and the festival continues to be a seemingly irresistible and almost unstoppable force of good vibes that seems vulnerable only to war and cholera.
Right. So Oktoberfest. German. Super duper German festival full of beer and pretzels and pork knuckles. So so German. Which brings us to Helen, Georgia. Er. . .
No one I talked to could tell me the reason Helen, Georgia, a random town of probably 500 permanent residents, is built as basically an exact replica of a Bavarian alpine town. I asked a lot. No one knows. They’re all just like, “Dude it’s Oktoberfest. Drink something. Don’t think so much.” Good advice.
Turns out, when you’re an old logging town, you’re not a place people want to hang out at and drink beer, eat schnitzel, and buy balloon animals and grammatically incorrect tee shirts for their kids so you gotta change and get a cool theme. That’s when you become Helen, Georgia, a bit of Bavaria in the Appalachians, with its biggest revenue stream Oktoberfest. I don’t know whose idea it was, but that person was a genius.
Yes, Oktoberfest in Helen is kitschy and kind of hilarious and surreal, but it’s also totally awesome–great vibes, nice people, good cheap beer, good cheap food, and the town really is quite pretty. Right when I got there, I was immediately won over by Helen’s unassuming, quaint charm. I loved it. I’ll go back again next year. I might even wear lederhosen. Until then, enjoy some pictures I took.