After testing the waters last year, it seems Wild West Oktoberfest is here to stay.
YoColorado and other Golden businesses revived the community’s Oktoberfest last year — with a Western spin — and proceeds benefited the Golden Civic Foundation. The original Oktoberfest was founded in 1978 as a GCF fundraiser and ran annually until 1993.
After last year’s pilot event, GCF took over as organizer and moved the celebrations from downtown to the Clear Creek parking lot off 10th Street.
The Golden Civic Foundation has wanted to move away from its gala-style fundraiser, which has run for 47 years, and instead host a larger community event as its chief fundraiser. Starting this year, that’ll be Wild West Oktoberfest, GCF Director of Community Impact Julie Bartos said.
The nonprofit sold out its Sept. 23 Bavarian Banquet, with more than 500 community members enjoying a night of cowboy-themed music, polka-style dancing, steinholding competitions and more.
The Sept. 24 celebrations were similar but open to the public with discounts for local groups like Colorado School of Mines students and Coors employees.
Bartos felt like this format worked well, with the VIP event Friday night and the public, family-friendly one Saturday afternoon and evening.
Thanks to last year’s proceeds, the foundation was able to support 37 local nonprofits, Bartos said. This year’s fundraising goal was $250,000 to support projects like Foothills Art Center’s forthcoming Astor House campus.
Bartos thanked Coors, Wild West Oktoberfest’s title sponsor, and all the other businesses and community members who donated their time, products or other resources to make it happen. She hoped the event would become an annual celebration of Golden’s German, Western and beer cultures.
PJ Coors also thought Wild West Oktoberfest was a great way to bring the Golden community together in the fall. He said the Coors brewery put together a special Oktoberfest-style beer exclusively for the event, and liked how this year’s location allowed more room for all the vendors and activities.
He said Coors wanted to support GCF’s efforts and commended the nonprofit for all its work, saying, “They know where the need is (in the community).”
‘Golden having fun’
In the Clear Creek parking lot, there was a strong mix of Bavaria and the American West on display. Some attendees wore dirndl dresses and lederhosen; others donned cowboy hats and boots; and several had apparel that was a mix of both styles, which they showed off in the men’s, women’s, and couples/families costume contests.
Attendees also tested their strength with steinholding competitions and displayed their dancing prowess during everyone’s favorite polka, the Chicken Dance.
Under the beer tent, Golden Lions Club volunteers Wendy Renee, Janice Waring and others were serving a thirsty public. The two said they enjoyed everyone’s costumes and the event’s sense of community.
The previous night’s Bavarian Banquet had gone well, they said, as the attendees were very eager to support the event and a good cause in the Golden Civic Foundation. Waring said the auction was especially spirited, and hoped the rest of the Sept. 24 celebrations would have similar energy.
Out enjoying the sunshine, Genesee’s Gwen and Todd Davidson said there was no way they’d miss a local Oktoberfest. The two had just attended Breckenridge’s, and were excited to attend Golden’s after missing it last year.
They enjoy seeing all the costumes, sampling the food and drinks, and being immersed in the “friendly and happy” Bavarian culture for the day.
The two also love “everything Golden,” as Gwen described, and appreciate events that celebrate the community while also supporting a good cause like GCF.
“I love to see Golden having fun,” Gwen continued.