The fun and beer (and root beer) are flowing at Oktoberfest Monroe

MONROE — The beer is flowing here. But this weekend’s Oktoberfest Monroe is about more than just beer.

The second annual event is bringing a little Munich to Monroe with German-inspired music, dancing, games, food and activities.

“It’s a Bavarian celebration of the harvest,” Monroe Chamber of Commerce Director Una Wirkebau-Hartt said. “This is a wonderful way to open your eyes to a culture.”

The festival kicked off Friday with the tapping of a large wooden keg. It is set to continue at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds through Sunday.

The Festhalle Biergarten is pouring five varieties of beer, including Bayreuther Hell, Maisel’s Weisse, Veltins Pilsner, Grevensteiner and Bayern Oktoberfest. Organizers expect to go through about 150 kegs this weekend.

In addition to beer, Oktoberfest Monroe features continuous live music. There are traditional foods, such as schnitzel, bratwurst, Bavarian pretzels and fresh apple strudel. Activities for children include face painting, scavenger hunting and pumpkin decorating.

“This event was just honored as being one of the top 10 family friendly Oktoberfests in the country,” Wirkebau-Hartt said.

Norma Grefsrud, 88, and her friend, Bernice McDonnell, 85, both of Bothell, were waltzing en route to the various games and vendors on Friday afternoon.

“We’re having a ball,” Grefsrud said. “It’s been very interesting because I’m not German. I’m Norwegian.”

Grefsrud said she threw for the cornhole toss and played Hammerschlagen for the first time at Oktoberfest.

Hammerschlagen is game in which players challenge opponents to see who can drive a nail into a stump using the narrow end of a hammer with the fewest swings.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Jeff Holden, who runs the game. “I’ve been told it gets easier as the beer goes down.”

The event boasts a Hammerschlagen tournament. The top player wins $150 and a Seahawks Super Bowl stein. The festival features smaller versions of the traditional games for children.

Anne Bouckenooghe, of Monroe, said her children, Gillead, 6, Elan, 4, and Eliana, 2, did the cornhole toss and gave Hammerschlagen a shot.

“They tried and failed,” she said, carrying her 5-month-old daughter, Asher. “Usually they have no problem banging stuff around.”

“I love hammering,” Gillead added. “And I love root beer.”

The event has a root beer garden for children and those who want non-alcoholic drinks. On Friday, Jody May, of Woodinville, was in a dirndl, a traditional Bavarian dress, and serving root beer on tap and making floats. She also sells non-alcoholic beer and runs the event’s designated driver program. Sober drivers can sign in to receive free soda, coffee and water.

“We want to encourage people to be responsible,” May said.

Oktoberfest Monroe is open daily to all ages until 7 p.m., after which only those 21 and older are allowed.

Tickets are $10 for adults. Children 12 and younger get in free. Admission is half-price on Sunday.

For more information, go to oktoberfestmonroe.com.

The 5K Stein Dash is set for 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. People are encouraged to race in costume. Runners receive a stein to carry during the run and to fill with their drink of choice afterwards.

The race loop starts at the festival entrance. Registration is $35 and includes Oktoberfest admission after the race. People can register at steindash5kmonroe.com.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

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