Tussey Mountain’s Oktoberfest to feature music, beer and the return of Herwig’s

Fall is here and Tussey Mountain is welcoming it with open arms.

On Friday, Tussey will close out its outdoor live music programming with Oktoberfest. The event, which starts at 5:30 p.m., is catered by Bernd Brandstatter of Herwig’s Austrian Bistro fame, with live music from Polkadelphia and local oompah band The Bavarian Stompers.

“This will be the eighth year that we put on this party,” Tussey Mountain Director of Marketing Aaron Weyman wrote in an email, “and it’s one of our most favorite days of the year. It’s really just our way of paying homage to the actual event taking place in Munich every autumn.”

The Bavarian Stompers includes beer and whiskey connoisseur, musician and Big Springs Spirits head distiller Philip Jensen and other local musicians.

“The Bavarian Stompers are an eight-member oompah band that formed over 30 years ago,” Jensen wrote in an email, “from members of the larger Little German Band so we could play more gigs in smaller venues. I like to say, we took the best players and the biggest jokers and that is who we are.”

Oompah music is a rhythmic style predicated on a tuba driving the music, alternating with other, higher-pitched instruments to literally create an “oom,” and “pah” sound effect.

“We play a range of music including polkas, waltzes and marches and other traditional songs from Europe and the United States,” Jensen wrote, “a little bit of swing as well as novelty tunes. Basically the range of tunes you would hear at an Oktoberfest or a summer beer garden.”

Since the Bavarian Stompers are a large group and can play for quite a while, the band approaches this gig in a specialized way.

“We focus on the more high energy tunes,” Jensen wrote, “mostly polkas and marches and some singalongs. Of course, we have to play/sing ‘Edelweiss.’ Pa. polka and beer barrel polka are also must plays. If the crowd is in the mood — the ‘Chicken Dance.’”

As would be expected, Tussey’s Oktoberfest event will be laden with different German beer choices from both imported and local sources.

“This, of course, will feature the official Oktoberfest biers like Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Spaten and Warsteiner,” Weyman wrote, “but also incorporate in local fall drinks from Shy Bear Brewing and others.”

To go along with the German-style beer, there will be plentiful decorations and a plethora of food offerings from local vendors.

“The amphitheater will be decorated, staff will be in lederhosen, and the food will be delicious,” Weyman wrote. “(There will be) authentic Austrian dishes from the pulled-out-of-retirement-just-for-this Herwig’s Austrian Bistro as well as a menu from Catering with Style’s Dan Rallis, and more food from Rosie’s Piergoies and Doan’s Bones.”

The night will conclude with music from Polkadelphia and a bonfire, and although it is Tussey’s last outdoor music event of the year, more is sure to come.

“We are hoping to add to a fun-filled Homecoming weekend by offering up a music, food and drink smorgasbord you won’t find anywhere else in town,” Weyman wrote. “We are working on the events calendar and are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Stay tuned.”

As for the Stompers, more is sure to come as well, with appearances Monday at Happy Valley Brewing Company and Oct. 13 at Olde New York.

Kevin Briggs is a writer, researcher and musician who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.