BRIAN HEAD — The snow-bare slopes of Brian Head, dotted with red and yellow leafs as Aspen and Oak trees begin their passage from summer to fall, reflect the meaning of R’Oktoberfest as the mountain community celebrated the final days of summer Saturday, beckoning the winter season.
Starting at 11 a.m., the aroma of bratwursts and sauerkraut wafted in the air at the Giant Steps Lodge, located at 329 S. Highway 143, in Brian Head, where long tables surrounding the north-facing stage were snug with guests. When it began to rain, some people huddled under the tents, others danced to the live music bumping a reggae beat and, as the hours passed, more people crowded onto the back patio.
The name was changed from Oktoberfest to R’Oktoberfest after Brian Head Resort took over organizing the event and brought a new flavor to this annual event, Brian Head Resort Marketing Director Krista Wiekamp said.
“The turnout for this event has been way more than expected. I have goosebumps,” Wiekamp said. “We put a twist on the original event that offers something for people from every walk of life. We still have traditional German food but we decided to bring in local breweries. The whole vibe is more upbeat and energetic.”
Every half hour, participants gathered on stage to try their windpipes at the blowing of the alpine horn and the crowd cheered for who played it best.
Jensen Buck and the Family played first and bass player Ryan Sargent, 22, described his band’s music as “country-reggae.” They played some cover songs, such as a unique rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.” Sargent said:
This is one of my favorite songs we play. The song is sad and reflective, so to make it reggae took a lot of work. It’s a collaborative effort to alter a song. I was surprised when I found out we were going to play at the R’Oktoberfest. I really like this venue. The only location I’ve played that compares would be Lake Powell.
For thousands of years, societies worldwide have gathered to celebrate the changing of seasons with food, dance, music and art. Today, whether we consciously realize it or not, we engage in festivals that stem from these ancestral roots.
R’Oktoberfest is a play on Oktoberfest which derives from a German tradition that began in the early 1800s. The festival, held in Munich, Bavaria, lasts 16 days, beginning the third weekend of September and ending the first Sunday of October, and is said to be the largest festival in the world.
For Andrew Holm, 31, of St. George, R’Oktoberfest presents an opportunity to relax, enjoy music and try local beer.
“I went to the Great Western Beer Festival a couple years ago and really enjoyed it,” Holm said. “This is what it’s all about: listening to music, talking to new people and drinking good beer.”
Brian Head plans to make R’Oktoberfest an annual tradition and next year expects to extend the celebration for three days, Wiekamp said.
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