Rinse out your steins and dust off your lederhosen: Oktoberfest is coming to Canby.
Dubbed “Fobtoberfest” in honor of the event’s main organizer and sponsor, FOB Taproom, Canby’s first annual Oktoberfest celebration will take place from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, September 17, at Wait Park in downtown Canby.
Though this will be Fobtoberfest’s first time as a community event in the park, the taproom has hosted smaller iterations over the years.
“We wanted to do something fun for the community and have a really authentic, organically grown Oktoberfest for us to share,” FOB owner Steve Puga explained.
First-time visitors to Puga’s taproom at the Canby Place shopping complex may be forgiven for double-checking their GPS to make sure they didn’t somehow step onto a different continent.
German flags, soccer club logos, bier signs, wall art and other decor, and even an Oktoberfest-themed pinball machine prove Puga’s bona fides as a genuine lover of German beer, food and culture.
A former professional in the world of supply chain logistics, Puga frequently traveled to Europe and fell in love with the beer scene in Deutschland. It’s this love that fuels his passion for both the taproom and the Fobtoberfest event.
“Anybody who knows FOB knows we’re about a genuine love of German beers,” Puga said. “Just that feeling of walking into a German beer hall and it’s kind of like Cheers: It’s the community pub and everybody knows your name. That’s the whole premise behind what we try to do every day.”
Puga said he was also inspired to broaden Fobtoberfest into a larger community event because of this area’s German heritage. In the pioneer days, a sizable contingent of first- and second-generation German immigrants settled in Canby and the surrounding communities, and a number of families made their mark.
Among them were the Nielands, who operated the Maple Corner Restaurant in Canby at the intersection of Northwest First Avenue and Fir Street in the 1920s and ’30s. Matriarch Anna Louise Nieland née Haefs, inherited her love of cooking fine food from her father, German emigrant Herman Haefs.
The Canby Evangelical Church on South Township Road, the only pre-1900 church still standing in town other than the Canby Pioneer Chapel, was originally founded in 1894 as the German Evangelical Church. German was the spoken language of the church until 1912.
The prominent Kraxberger clan, which actually originated from neighboring Austria, was heavily invested in another originally German-speaking church, Macksburg Lutheran, where the language was the official one for services until 1929. After that, the services alternated between English and German for another 14 years.
“There is a lot of German history and German influence in this area,” Puga said. “And that was kind of paramount when my wife and I decided to buy this and transform it into what it is now, was knowing about that German thread that runs through Canby.”
Fobtoberfest attendees will have no shortage of beers to choose from, with a menu of more than a dozen rare German beers carefully selected by Puga — and a ceremonial Oktoberfest keg containing an exclusive brew will be tapped at precisely noon to kick off the festivities.
Bavarian-style bratwurst and pretzels, among other authentic flavors, will be on offer from Ebner’s Custom Meats and B’s Bake Shoppe, respectively. And the air will be filled with traditional German folk music and drinking songs, including a three-piece oompah band.
The tradition of Oktoberfest dates back to the largest and original Oktoberfest, a 16-day annual folk festival held in Munich, Germany, since 1810.
The beer fair and cultural festival draws more than six million visitors to Bavaria each year and has inspired numerous Oktoberfest celebrations in other cities that are modeled after the original Munich event, including the famed Mt. Angel Oktoberfest, which is the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.
To hear more from Steve Puga about the upcoming Fobtoberfest event, check out Episode 391 of the Now Hear This: Canby podcast, “Prost!”
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