SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Downtown Wakefield will transform into a German village this weekend when Oktoberfest brings Bavarian dancing, an oompah band, pretzels, schnitzel, bratwurst and beer to the shops and restaurants along Main Street.
The fun starts at noon on Saturday and continues until 11 p.m., with the traditional tapping of the Oktoberfest kegs set for 1 p.m., and a parade to follow.
Part of Main Street, from Robinson Street to Kenyon Avenue, will be closed to vehicles from noon to 5 p.m. to make room for artisans and vendors. Admission is $5 per person and is free for children under 12.
Kenny Tetzner, president of the Wakefield Village Association, said organizers are always looking to top the entertainment of the previous year while making it inclusive and fun for every age and ethnicity. “It’s a blast,” Tetzner said. “It is truly a community event. You come in, and you belong.”
The Münchner Kindl parade steps off at 1 p.m. along Main Street.
Münchner Kindl, or Munich child, is the longtime mascot for Munich’s Oktoberfest. In Germany, the mascot is a robed young woman riding horseback holding a huge beer stein. In Wakefield, the Münchner Kindl will toss candy to the crowd from a hoisted barrel.
The beer and food are a big part of the attraction at Oktoberfest.
Visitors can enjoy authentic bratwurst and sauerkraut, schnitzel, apple cider, sausage and peppers, pretzels and beer, including an Oktoberfest brew made specifically for the event.
Whalers Brewing Company and Shaidzon Beer Company will offer traditional pilsners and wheat beers. Wine is also available. Burgers, hot dogs, chicken, French fries and kettle corn will be available too.
And while downing a brew or eating bratwurst, music from Germany will fill the air.
The Hofbräu Spieler Band, a traditional oompah German band, will play the expected polkas and waltzes, plus a few surprises, Tetzner said.
Several Rhode Island bands will play a mix of genres after 5 p.m., and Take it to the Bridge, a funk/rock cover band, will close out the festival, playing 9:30 to 11 p.m. on the Contemporary Theater Stage along the Saugatucket, where large RiverFire baskets will be lit for the last time this year.
This year, Oktoberfest is getting an international twist with Irish step dancers and music from Laos, Tetzner said.
Acts will include fire dancer Amanda Salemi, traditional Bavarian dances from the S.G.T.V. Alpenblumen Schuhplattler Dancers, vintage dance from Providence’s The TropiGals, step dancing from the Damhsa Irish Dance Studio in Warwick, and break dancing from Providence-based Project 401 Dancers.
Lao dancers from the Laotian Community Center of Rhode Island will also perform, as well as students from Soles Dance Academy. Moon Time Entertainment will perform aerial stunts to Halloween music atop an eight-foot pole.
Oktoberfest isn’t just for adults, either.
A children’s fair, costumed characters, a magician, a roller derby demonstration and more will run from noon to 5 p.m., and South Kingstown’s Parks and Recreation Department will hold a children’s fair at Wakefield Elementary School, with pumpkin painting, face painting, games and an obstacle course. The Union Fire District invites children to explore a fire engine from noon to 4 p.m. in the Bell Block municipal parking lot.
Members of the Providence Roller Derby will make their first appearance at Oktoberfest. For one dollar, visitors can arm wrestle a team member.
“They’ll also interview you and derby-ize your name,” said Kenny “The Bavarian Bruiser” Burke, a volunteer who helps coordinate the event. “We throw a few zingers at you every year. We come at you sideways a few different ways to keep it fresh.”
The Karate Instruction Assistance Initiative will hold its 10th annual 5K run to raise money for karate scholarships. While it’s a separate event from Oktoberfest, an informal lederhosen division has been formed. Anyone running in lederhosen gets half off admission and a free beer.