By Chris Lackner
Raise a pint — or four — at Beau’s Oktoberfest, which attracts nearly 20,000 visitors over two days (Sept. 23 and 24) to the village of Vankleek Hill. What started as a few picnic tables on the brewery’s front lawn has grown into a can’t-miss fall event featuring craft beer (with a focus on German styles), independent Canadian music, and Bavarian-inspired food from top local restaurants.
“It’s not a sit-around kind of event — there’s so much going on,” says Beau’s co-founder Steve Beauchesne. “You can take a class on beer and food pairing, participate in (or enjoy watching) the keg toss or sausage-eating competitions, or check out day and evening entertainment on two stages . ... And you can try beer from 50 other national and international craft breweries. People love how they can totally personalize their Oktoberfest experience.”
Beau’s popular Marzen Oktoberfest lager will return for the festivities. Beauchesne is also positively hopping about Beau’s new Oktoberfest mix pack, which includes a Vienna-style lager, a ginger hopfenweisse, a Baltic porter, and a spiced beer called a mumme. The specialty brews will be available at Oktoberfest and the LCBO.
Don’t get confused by the fact that Oktoberfest is happening in September. “The biggest change this year is actually the timing — we moved the festival’s timing [to be] earlier by a week to take advantage of warmer weather and doubled the camping space for weekend pass holders,” Beauchesne explains. “We have 54-40 playing on the Friday night stage along with Born Ruffians, and Saturday features k-os, who we made our Golden Vox beer with, and Hannah Georgas.”
Beau’s Oktoberfest also supports charities and community groups. To date, it has raised $430,600. I’ll drink to that. Proust! Held over five days, the Hot Air Balloon Festival blows more than hot air. Start with more than 50 hot air balloons, as well as balloon tours and special shapes such as a gigantic elephant. Top that off with more than 300 activities and shows, including a major tribute to Prince and David Bowie; an amusement park; reptile zoo; and the Ultimate Strongman Junior World Championship. Plus “magnificent fireworks and two night glows, where the balloons light up to the sound of music,” according to festival spokesperson Éric Brulotte. It all takes flight at The Ottawa International Animation Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year from Sept. 21 to 25. (For more details, read By the Numbers, page 21). Celebrations include special screenings of past grand-prize winners, more Canadian features than ever before, and plenty of cultural diversity. Get animated by entries from 23 countries on six continents. Upper Canada Village lights up again with Pumpkinferno from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30. You’ll feel haunted by the outdoor nighttime exhibit of 7,000 handcrafted pumpkins just inside the gates of the historic attraction. Return to Saunders Farm in nearby Munster for Haunting Season (daytime family-friendly activities opening Sept. 26) and Fright Fest (night-time activities for adults and children, opening Sept. 24). Get your spook on with hedge mazes, labyrinths, a haunted hayride, the Ghost Town stage show, the Barn of Terror, and Camp Slaughter – as well as a brand new mystery Halloween attraction. After fending off the phantoms, enjoy some farm-fresh food.