Oktoberfest includes hands-on activities for family 

WHAT: Oktoberfest

WHERE: Whistler Village

WHEN: Oct. 12-14

Hearty food, Lederhosen and a lot of beer ? it must be Oktoberfest.

The fall festival returns to Whistler this weekend, and this year there are new ways to get into the Bavarian spirit.

The fun starts on Friday with a village parade led by the Austria Vancouver Club Melody Choir at 4 p.m. and the traditional tapping of the keg at 4:30 p.m. Friday?s Oktoberfest Feast at the conference centre features a full Bavarian buffet with oom-pah-pah music by Al and the Alpiners and the Edelweiss Dancers.

Oktoberfest will be more family friendly with Saturday?s root beer garden. The kids can enjoy a juggling workshop hosted by physical comedian Mike Battie as well as face painting and of course lots of bubbly root beer. For just $2, it?s a great way to spend the afternoon. Look for the tent on the conference centre patio from 1 to 4 p.m. Kids under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.

Adults can enjoy a hands-on approach to the weekend with beer stein making, dance lessons or traditional cooking classes. Expressions (4338 Main Street) will get you set up with paint, brushes, stencils and a little friendly advice to help you transform your plain clay stein into a piece of art. It?s a great Oktoberfest keepsake. Drop in Saturday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. The $30 fee covers the cost of supplies, firing and glazing.

If you want to learn a few steps before heading to the evening?s dancehall, be sure to find your way to MY Place Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. The Edelweiss Dancers will lead you through polkas, waltzing and even a traditional folk dance.

"You don?t have be totally co-ordinated to learn these dances, that?s the whole point," laughs Edelweiss Dancers opman (leader), Eric Wutschnik. "We?ll have enough of our dancers there that we should be able to work one on one with people and show them the basic steps. When you learn those, the rest comes really easy. People think polka is much more difficult than it really is."

And Wutschnik should know what he?s talking about. He and the dance troupe have been featured at Whistler?s Oktoberfest for 10 years.

The two hour lesson is $10/person or $15/couple.

If you?d like to learn how to cook your favourite Oktoberfest dish, register for lessons under the direction of the talented chefs at the Whistler Cooking School. German wurst, choucroute garni, schnitzel and spatzl will be on the menu. Call 604-935-1848 for times and details.

If you prefer some local fare, the Whistler Farmer?s Market will be moving indoors to the conference centre for its final Saturday of the year. It?s your last chance to pick up wares from area farmers, bakers and artisans, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The music continues Saturday night at the Brew-Ha-Ha, a Munich-style beer hall with food and beverage tasting booths as well as the always popular yodelling contest.

For tickets, times and information, visit the Whistler Activity Centre.


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