The banks of the Chattahoochee River come to life in Helen, Georgia during the fall with ompah music and Bavarian bier. Every year since 1970 Georgia's most famous Oktoberfest transforms tranquil Helen into the ultimate North Georgia party town. Polka with dancers in native costume, eat Bavarian food and enjoy the festival into the wee hours of the morning. Beer, brats, bands and Lederhosen - the Helen Oktoberfest has them all.
Helen, Georgia became known as a tourist capital shortly after changing its appearance to look like a town in the Bavarian Alps. Good-natured Pete Hodkinson, one of the four men responsible for revitalizing Helen, also created Oktoberfest, copied from the Bavarian town of Munich.
In 1810 Munich, the capital of Bavaria, hosted a royal wedding and the two-week long party filled the streets with revelers. The party continued through the years, growing bigger with time. People at the Oktoberfest would drink a unique Bavarian bier called Marzen. This thick brew, which is traditionally served during the autumn, is noted for its high alcohol content and full flavor.
The first Helen Oktoberfest was a limited success, but within five years the party had caught on and the streets of Helen were filled with visitors. Helen expanded the party to six weeks, including the popular leaf-change season.
Although the entire town participates in the Oktoberfest, Oompah-central is the Festhalle, where the bands play throughout the day. It is here that cold beer and hot off the grill German-style wursts (sausages) are served. A parade, normally on the first Saturday of the festival, kicks off the celebration.