OAKLAND -- Preparations are underway for the Dimond District's popular sixth annual Oaktoberfest from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5 at MacArthur Boulevard and Fruitvale Avenue.
The festival, which is always held on October's first Saturday, promises to be even bigger and better this year. Last year's festival drew 18,000 people. This year, more than 20,000 people are expected to visit the district, said Daniel Swafford, Oaktoberfest's founder and managing director.
"People, who live here love it," said Matthew Lonergan, the two—time chair of the Oaktoberfest Committee. "They have Dimond neighborhood pride."
"The event showcases the district in a positive way. This neighborhood has a lot to offer," Swafford said.
Oaktoberfest is hosted by a partnership between the Dimond Improvement Association and the Dimond Business and Professional Association. The groups are also working closely with the Dimond Recreation Center to sponsor activities and games for young and old alike. The festival will feature the brews of some 30 microbreweries, as well as the return of the ever-popular homebrewers contest.
"There is something for everyone," Swafford said.
Twenty food vendors, offering everything from traditional German fare to vegan Filipino food, will be on hand. The event draws Oaklanders and Oakland lovers, as well as craft beer fans. The Oakland Parks and Recreation Center will provide bounce houses, a sweet shop and games for children.
Last year's event brought in $14,000, most of which helped fund litter and graffiti removal five days a week in the district. Partnering community organizations earned another $8,000 for their individual causes. This year's proceeds will continue to fund that program, as well as art in the community. Five mosaics are planned for the district, as are streetscape improvements to the neighborhood.
2013's event promises a full program of entertainment on the festival's three stages, featuring local groups, storytellers, dancers, musicians and, for the first time, a burlesque performance.
The Skyline Marching Band will open the event, and as German tradition dictates, Mayor Jean Quan will tap the first keg. The Dimond District was at one time the resort destination for the region's German community and was once home to one of the largest German communities in the area. In the early years of the 20th century, the neighborhood was peppered with beer gardens.
The event honors the Dimond's past while celebrating the present and inspires hope for the future. The event is free. Tasting costs from $20 to $50 to VIP packages for $150. For more information and to purchase tasting tickets in advance, visit www.Oaktoberfest.org.