For the past three years we have traveled to Helen, GA for their annual Oktoberfest festivities with a few friends for a weekend in October. Our friends parents own a cabin in Helen and have graciously opened their home, and traditions, up to us these past years, forevermore converting us into Oktoberfest-aholics!
Quaintly situated in the rolling hills of Georgia, Helen is a perfectly picturesque town modeled in the German style of architecture. It is a mostly touristic town, with it's main claim to fame it's two months of Oktoberfest festivities in September and October (longest running in the US I might add!), but they still boast plenty of other fun activities throughout the year including the annual fasching event in February. Only a three hour drive from our hometown of Charlotte, NC, this makes for a perfect weekend getaway.
We typically arrive on Friday afternoon and spend this time visiting and catching up with friends, sipping on some brews, and soaking in the beautiful scenery surrounding the cabin. Saturday we rise early; maybe go for a hike at one of the numerous scenic hiking trails, or like this year, explore a local corn maze. Lee Anderson Farms is a quick drive from the cabin, located in the small town of Dahlonega. We arrived at opening time, 10AM and moseyed on over to the charming barn to collect a bottle of water (included in the admission price of $10!) and check out the petting zoo before heading off into the maze! (As a side note can I just add that I have added "baby goat" to the list of animals I want to own that my husband says no to?) Now of course, we had to make things interesting and wager a bet. After hashing out the details, it was decided. Girls vs. Guys, loser takes a shot of stroh. (Not familiar? It's an Austrian rum that smells divine but unfortunately, tastes like gasoline. I was fooled the first year of Oktoberfest and have since learned my lesson. That stuff is an *ahem* acquired taste.) We snapped a few pics then headed off into the corn! Of course the girls crushed it and finished the course in a little under an hour. I can't really take any credit if I'm being honest, Mia is a whiz with a map and she has a keen sense of direction. Me? Not so much.
After coming home to freshen up and have lunch, we headed out into downtown Helen. The small downtown area is filled with local eateries, small chintzy souvenir shops, and numerous artisan shops with everything from handmade wooden cuckoo clocks to German-styled alpine hats. Of course we had to pick up a hat the first year we visited, and each year since have bought a commemorative pin to decorate and remember the years past.
Before nightfall approaches, (the FestHalle fills up fast and we wanted good seats near the stage!) we make our way over to the FestHalle for a night filled with live music (polka of course!), pitchers of Dunkle beer, bratwursts, and more rounds of "das boot" than I can count. Not familiar with das boot? You can purchase a boot from the FestHalle filled with beer. Everyone passes around the boot drinking from it before passing it to the person to your right. The person immediately before the one who finishes off the boot has to buy the next round. This is one of my favorite Oktoberfest games! The FestHalle has a good selection of food to go with that beer and you really can't go wrong with whatever you choose. Pretzels with beer cheese, bratwurst plates, sour kraut, German potato salad. It's all delicious! Men and women dressed in German livery fill the Fest Hall to the brim making for an entertaining and delightful night of merriment. We always leave red in the face (from dancing or beer I couldn't tell you ;) ) feet sore, and bellies aching from laughing.
Oktoberfest is always a great time and we are so fortunate our friends extend the invitation each year to join them. We would definitely recommend checking it out if you are in the area!