Gemütlichkeit at first Oktoberfest

Traditional German dance group Nature Friends Schuhplattler dazzled the crowds at the inaugural Concord Oktoberfest at Todos Santos Plaza this month. Large crowds gathered to watch them perform traditional dance, including log cutting and axing to German folk music. (Photo by Tamara Steiner)

What goes better with beer? How about music, dance, food and activities for the whole family. That was the formula for a successful inaugural Concord Oktoberfest this month in Todos Santos Plaza and the surrounding streets in downtown Concord.

The Brewing Network’s Justin Crossley has been hosting the Spring Brews Festival for the past nine years in Todos Santos. With that event drawing a sold-out adult audience every year Crossley looked to host a family-friendly Oktoberfest this fall.

From the initial reports the event organizers clicked off all the boxes. Visit Concord and the Greater ­Concord Chamber of Commerce co-hosted the event.

There were 20 craft breweries pouring German-style craft lagers and by late Saturday afternoon all of the commemorative glassware was gone. The crowd estimate was 5000 between the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon sessions. A variety of food trucks were kept busy by the crowd of families, millennials and area residents who enjoy the variety of entertainment at Todos Santos during the year.

Crossley said one of the highlights of the event was the 28-piece orchestra—SF German Band aka Deutscher Musikverein—that performed on the Todos Santos stage for most of the event. Their program included German folk songs as well as yodeling and stein-holding contests among attendees.

Another hit was the traditional German dance group, Nature Friends Schuhplattler, that dazzled the crowd with their dance routines. Large crowds gathered to watch them perform traditional dance, including log cutting and axing to German folk music.

“Concord Oktoberfest was an amazing fun, family-friendly event with over 5000 attendees embracing their inner Prost! Todos Santos Plaza was the perfect setting for the festival’s giant tent to really embrace the feeling of being in Munich with dancing, live music, singing, even a strongman contest,” said Elaine Schroth, Visit Concord executive director.

A kid’s area on Mt. Diablo St. included face painting, rides, bounces, Funhouse, pony rides and petting zoo. Nearly 50 exhibitors sold a variety of wares in the park’s Vendor Village.

“Attendees raved about short lines, great food, an elaborate kid’s area and an abundance of craft beer. They also commented on how well organized the festival was compared to others,” a proud Crossley added.

Crossley moved his Brewing Network studio to Concord four years ago in The Hop Grenade on Todos Santos Plaza. His live-streaming radio and podcast network programming educates homebrewers and beer lovers around the globe.

Their next event is the 10th annual Spring Brews Festival on Saturday, April 6. Visit for updates on their events.