Beer festival embraces its artistic side 

Second year of the event brings more music and shows off region's artistic talent

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAVID BUZZARD/WWW.MEDIA-CENTRE.CA - Fancy some Oompah? Some revellers at the first Whistler Village Beer Festival last year went all Oktoberfest. This year, they have the Rheinlander Oompah Band to serenade them.
  • Photo by David Buzzard/www.media-centre.ca
  • Fancy some Oompah? Some revellers at the first Whistler Village Beer Festival last year went all Oktoberfest. This year, they have the Rheinlander Oompah Band to serenade them.

As everyone knows, it was the great beer expert Pharrell Williams who sang in his recent international hit Hoppy, "Because I'm hoppy... Clap along if you feel that hoppiness is the truth."

OK, those might not be the correct lyrics, but try it as a substitution — it works. For a lot of people, hoppiness (and beer) equals happiness.

And with the Whistler Village Beer Festival coming up from Sept. 11 to 14, clapping along is in order — there will be a lot of applause for the 67 breweries taking part in the second year of the event — and there will be a lot of music, both at the venues sponsoring the festival and also in the wider village.

The inaugural event in 2013 saw a sold-out event with 2,000 people.

This year, along with the bevvies and the food, there is beer-inspired entertainment to spread the hoppiness.

First off is the Rheinlander Oompah Band of Vancouver, which will perform authentic Oktoberfest music on Saturday, Sept. 13, from noon until 3 p.m.

Peter Paulus, who co-founded the band, says his work is to provide "happy music" to beer drinkers and everyone else.

You could say the Rheinlanders have reached emeritus level in oompah music; Paulus has performed with accordionist Gary Winzlaff for 45 years.

"Ever since we were young-uns. We played in a few different bands together and in the Rheinlander band ever since," Paulus says.

Tuba player Steve Toren has been with them for over 15 years. The trio, with 105 years of oompahs between them, have German, Scandinavian or Austrian heritage.

The band is no stranger to Whistler, having performed here over the years on the patio outside the La Bocca Restaurant in the fall. They also performed at the World Luge Championships at the Whistler Sliding Centre last winter.

"We've been coming to Whistler off and on in all the years we've been together. We've seen a lot of change, a lot of growth over the years," Paulus says.

"The beer fest came up and we're taking a different approach this time. We're going to stroll. I'm going to have a marching snare strapped on and we have the tuba, a trumpet and the accordion. We're going to be in full Oktoberfest dress and stroll throughout the village playing out oompah music and stoking the fires.

"People find the music happy and infectious. They're smiling and interested. A lot of Europeans drop by in Whistler, too."

And Paulus says in case you don't know the etiquette for Schunkeling — traditional moves for anyone enjoying an oompah band — this is what you do: first you drink beer and sit together, link arms with the friends sitting beside you, sway in time to the oompah-pah beat, and dance to the polka sound.

Sounds deliciously easy.

There will also be a visual arts side of the beer festival this year.

Kevani Macdonald has brought together 12 regional painters and other visual artists for the beer festival and has given each of them large aluminum beer kegs from the Whistler Brewing Company and another as-yet-unnamed brewer to decorate. They will be on display at the main beer-tasting location in Olympic Plaza.

"We're calling it the keg gallery with 12 unique works of art," Macdonald says.

"It's an interesting kind of canvas. The artists can use any medium they want but the kegs still belong to the breweries, we need to give them back after."

The kegs will be on display for the duration of the festival, from Sept. 12.

The artists confirmed are Andy Fenwick, Baz Carolan, Chad Depner, Dave Petko, Kate Zessel, Katie Carter, Leilani the Artist, Ralph Suter, Tori Hillier and Victoria Farrand.

"We think it's a great opportunity, with so many people coming to Whistler to experience the beer festival, to showcase our talented artists and get their names out further. Our artists love these kinds of challenges. They get to be there on the day to taste some beer and show up at work!"

Petko says it will be the first time he's put together an artwork of this sort.

"They left how we decorate the kegs up to us, they just asked that anything put on them has to be taken off afterwards," Petko says.

In his case, Petko will first copy his art digitally and have it printed onto removable vinyl.

"Just like one big sticker, just slap it on," he says. "I have a screen-printing background, so I've put a lot of stuff on vinyl and Mylar."

Petko gave a brief glimpse into his plans.

"I've been drawing these little critters lately, a mish-mash of animals and fish and stuff. I'm doing a few of those on the keg," he says.

For information on the Whistler Village Beer Festival and tickets, visit www.wvbf.ca.

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