Sponsored by Yuengling and Smith Brothers Harley Davidson, Kingsport Oktoberfest has been named — for the second year in a row — a Top 50 Festival by “Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine.” Proceeds from the festival will benefit local charities such as Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, Keep Kingsport Beautiful and Move to Kingsport.
“We are really excited about this year’s Oktoberfest. We work hard to design an event that’s fun for families and a great time to get together with old and new friends,” said Kingsport Oktoberfest organizer Robert Brents.
This year, things got more interesting when the third annual Kingsport Oktoberfest and its new event, the Tennessee Idiotarod, were selected by a major cable network to be featured in a 30-minute show with host Ben Bailey of the game show “Cash Cab.” A large film crew from Los Angeles will be in Kingsport for the week of the festival.
“We consider this national attention a tremendous complement for the festival and, more importantly, the growing team of people who make this happen,” said festival organizer and spokesperson Stephanie Carson. “We want the Kingsport Oktoberfest to be added to bucket lists across the country, and a show like this could do just that.”
Activities are planned from morning until night. Among them are the Smith Brothers Harley-Davidson Craft Bier Garden. This year’s bier garden will offer two levels of VIP tickets. Premier Club Memberships are $100 each and include early access to the Bier Garden at 1 p.m., an authentic felt German hat, commemorative Tennessee Oktoberfest tasting glass, Oktoberfest growler, bar towel, food at the Stir Fry VIP Tent, fine wine, a cigar, a Vertical Beer Tasting, special Belgium VIP Glass and a special bag.
The Vertical Beer Tasting offers Premier Club members the opportunity to taste a select beer aged over six years to note the differences in taste over time. With the “wine-ification” of beer, organizers say a Vertical Beer Tasting gives people a chance to enjoy a quality beer.
“Vertical tastings are something relatively new in the craft beer world, but they’re a unique way for the true beer lover to gain an appreciation for how time impacts a beer,” Carson said.
Like last year, there is also a VIP ticket. For $70 ($65 for early bird purchasers), attendees gain early access to the Craft Bier Garden and catering from Stir Fry Café. Premier VIP and VIP tickets are in short supply and are expected to sell out well in advance of the event.
In addition, there will be two special FestivALES for VIPs in the VIP area. The Gregarious Great Pumpkin is a commissioned Pumpkin Harvest Ale running directly through the Great Pumpkin himself. Santa is Getting Fresh is another FestivALE that was commissioned for Oktoberfest. It’s a Double Dutch Chocolate Stout infused with Peppermint Candy Canes.
Opening for general admission ticket holders at 2:30 p.m., the Bier Garden is where attendees will be able to taste at least 100 different beers from brewers around the region. General admission tickets are $40 ($35 in advance) and can be purchased at www.kingsportoktoberfest.com.
This year’s guest brewer is Hi-Wire Brewery out of Asheville, N.C. Other breweries making their Tri-Cities debut at Oktoberfest include Jackalope Brewing, Big Boss Brewing and Blue Tick Brewing. Kingsport’s own Erich Allen and Studio Brew will also be represented. A complete list of participating breweries can be found at www.kingsportoktoberfest.com.
All ticket holders to the Smith Brothers Craft Bier Garden also receive entry to the Beer University, which focuses on education from grain to glass. Some of the region’s best brewers will discuss, in an intimate setting, some of the most interesting issues in brewing, including real ales, barrel aging and the lager process.
For the younger attendees, there will be three free inflatables and free crafts provided by the Kingsport Arts Council as part of the Leaping Lizard’s Das Kidzone. There will also be costumed stilt walkers that both kids and adults will enjoy watching. The Das Kidzone is an alcohol-free area. Activities start at 10 a.m. In addition, Earth Fare will have some healthy giveaways for the family, and the Gray Fossil Museum will offer a fossil dig for the children.
Other festival features include a College Football Bier Hall, a Barrell Roll competition, EuroKult German Car Show, Little City Roller Girls bout, cornhole tournament, the popular Weiner Dog Brat Trot and Tennessee Idiotarod Race. Food vendors and more than 45 artisans and craftsmen from around the region will also be on hand to sell their wares.
For updates and more information, visit www.kingsportoktoberfest.com.