Old favorite ChowderFest, new Noktoberfest bring chowder and beer to Williamsburg

Staff writer

Don’t let the name fool you. Noktoberfest is every bit an Oktoberfest celebration, just coming in November the day after the annual ChowderFest this weekend in Williamsburg.

CultureFix has a new beer-and-food festival in Noktoberfest, which promises to bring more than just a swig of the famous German celebration libation Saturday. With three breweries on hand, servers in traditional Oktoberfest garb, proper long tables and a big tent to put it all under, there’s no need to hop on a plane to Munich for the Oktoberfest experience.

“We wanted to try something new,” said Steve Rose, CultureFix founder and president.

An Oktoberfest celebration has been on Rose’s mind for about a decade, buttressed by suggestions from people in the community that CultureFix tackle such a project. In that time, the area’s brewing scene has expanded, creating a climate favorable for doing justice to an Oktoberfest celebration, Rose said.

Local breweries have done Oktoberfest celebrations of their own, but CultureFix intends to do something special by creating a large-scale event, one that draws on the resources of Precarious Beer Project, Virginia Beer Company and Alewerks. The event also features Polka and Polka-inspired music by Fusion Oompah Band.

“Interest in Oktoberfest-themed events has grown over the past few years with the rise of craft breweries, and we've seen a lot of German food introduced to the area through Prost Food Truck and The German Snack Shack,” said Robby Willey of Virginia Beer Company. “The idea of doing something slightly after Oktoberfest season seemed fun, so as not to compete with the other Oktoberfest events going on in the area.”

The breweries will brew up beer appropriate for Oktoberfest. Men in lederhosen and beer maids will serve drinks to patrons as they enjoy endless pretzels at long communal tables inside a heated tent.

For those with heartier appetites, German food truck Prost will be on site with schnitzel, brats, poutine and apple strudel desserts, said owner Tina Schalder-Phillips.

“Beer cheese and pretzels all go with the theme and the time of the year. Schnitzel is a huge seller also. It just gives another twist to the spirit of getting out and having fun with friends and family,” Schalder-Phillips said.

ChowderFest

Noktoberfest comes on the heels of the seventh annual ChowderFest, where 15 vendors will offer their takes on chowder.

ChowderFest will welcome a new vendor, the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area, and also have raw and roasted oysters sold by Cappohosic Oysters, Rose said.

Other vendors serving up chowder include Amber Ox Public House, Carrot Tree Kitchens, the Fat Canary and Craft 31.

The event, which happens Friday, will take place in a new venue — the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums lawn. Noktoberfest also takes place at the lawn. CultureFix selected the venue because it held Summer Breeze there, and found it was a visible and successful event location, Rose said.

“We’re trying to put things in more visible locations,” Rose said. ChowderFest was held on High Street last year.

BJ Griffin and the Galaxy Groove will be back to provide musical entertainment.

However, the Big Bluesy, which ran as part of a three-day event with ChowderFest last year, won’t be back this year. CultureFix is putting the event on hold, though it could return in the future, Rose said.

While Big Bluesy had its successes, the decision was made due to the challenge of getting a financial return on a genre-specific festival in a small town like Williamsburg, Rose said.

“It was too difficult to maintain,” Rose said.

Want to go?

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m., Friday (ChowderFest). Noon to 4 p.m., Saturday (Noktoberfest).

Where: Lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, 326 Francis St. West.

Cost: Chowderfest is $36 per ticket. Noktoberfest is $25 per ticket. A combined ticket for access to both events is $50. To buy tickets, visit bit.ly/2yU2zMa.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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