Reader Rant: OB’s Oktoberfest? Bah humbug!

by on October 14, 2009 · 24 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, Reader Rant, San Diego

Oktoberfest-09 03

by disillusioned local

How do you say, “bah humbug!” in German? That’s my attitude about the most recent event in downtown OB this past weekend that was labeled “Oktoberfest.”

Was this an Oktoberfest or just another street fair at the end of Newport? Nothing seemed like Oktoberfest. This event was no different from any other street fair at the bottom of Newport. The charity is the same, the cost is the same, the crowd is the same…the only thing different is that this is called “Oktoberfest”.

Am I mistaken, or isn’t Oktoberfest supposed to be something like a beer and food tasting with variety in both beer and food? What were there, like 4 kinds of beer? And not all of them were German….Karl Strauss, despite the name, is from San Diego..

I wish it was back in Dusty Rhoads Park where there were tents for all tastes of music/beer and space for rides.

And speaking of music, why must I wait in line for 30+ minutes and then pay 3 bucks to enter, and then fork out another 6 bucks for beer? I thought this was a community event. Why place the stage where only the beer garden can view it? This event could be so much better with proper planning etc.

I’ve had neighbors tell me in the past that they stopped going to these events because of how much you end up spending……and the money doesn’t even end up in OB. I can’t exactly go along with that, because my understanding is that one of the groups that usually raises funds is a cheerleading group from Pt. Loma….but it would be nice if maybe we could have some of those 6 dollar, 8 ounce beer profits being directed even a little bit back into the community.

Does anyone know how the profits are distributed? Where do the donations go? Does OBMA get any of it? And lastly, how come this Oktoberfest had such a lack of variety in beer?

I am one person who may not enjoy the fact that people come in from all over San Diego for the event, but that should say something about how popular OB street fests are. We should be happy that folks from other neighborhoods – even PB – come into our litle Hamlet and pump money into the economy.

But again, I wonder why OB Elementary or friends of the library (lets not forget, OB’s library will be on the chopping block again shortly….) or something like that isn’t one of the charities that reigns it in during these events. Could someone set that record straight please?

I’m in no way condoning the fact that people not from OB treat it like hell when they’re here – but I don’t necessarily think the festivities were altered very much by their presence. What I am more concerned about than non-locals invading an event here, is the fact that the event itself was a cookie cutter spitting image of every other street fest I’ve been to here. As my next door neighbor said as I was walking down the alley on my way over there, “Been to one, been to ‘em all”.

Maybe there’s a reason its less and less catered to OBceans and more catered to other folks: theres nothing special about it that makes it a uniquely local event.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

jettyboy October 14, 2009 at 9:19 am

“Seen one, seen them all”. That’s the theme I felt also when I walked by, unwilling to pay to play when the game has become so boring. No, I don’t have any ideas how to make it better, that’s not my job, and I’m sure they have people who are supposed to do that anyway. I do however think it was much better when the festival was held at Robb Field, and at least made the attempt to pretend to be some sort of Oktoberfest.
One last thought, how come every event in OB has the same few artists’ booths set up? Do these folks have an inside track to providing crafts to events? Don’t go off on me about supporting local artists, I’m in total unrestricted support of the craftspeople, and artists at the events, just seems it’s always the same ones.


CeeBug October 14, 2009 at 9:27 am

I went and had a great time. $3 to get in and $6 drinks is the best deal in town. You must not get out much if you think that is expensive.


JPinSD October 14, 2009 at 10:06 am

Not sure where you hang out in OB but i don’t think $6 beers is the best deal in town. But that wasn’t really the point. The point I was trying to make was that you might as well call it Newport/OB Fest. There wasn’t any resemblence to an Oktoberfest except maybe for the brat stand that shows up at all the fests/fairs etc. The pizza stand was pretty German though.


mr fresh October 14, 2009 at 9:45 am

so if the event was moved to la jolla….
the marijuana referendum people would have been replaced by petitions for a new train station at the del mar fairgrounds…
the dude on the street hustling for dog training for the homeless would have been replaced by a little old lady hustling for the San Diego Ballet…
the sausage toss would have been replaced by a wine bottle recycling contest…
and the streets would have been perfumed with lavender to discourage rowdies from outside the neighborhood…
give it a rest, people, it’s just a street party.
don’t like it?
don’t go.


Shawn Conrad October 14, 2009 at 9:51 am

I do agree that all the “festivals” seem to feel the same. I basically do not indulge unless friends come into town and want to go.

During the Jazz Fest, OB Street Fair, Oktoberfest, Hippie Fest, etc. I can be found near my grill, at home, with a cold beer in my hand. Not only is it more festive there, but the cost savings is incredible.

I think they should all be named “Cage Fest” and call it a day.


JPinSD October 14, 2009 at 10:10 am

What happened to the Jazz Fest? Didn’t see it this year?


Dave Sparling October 14, 2009 at 10:11 am

I am sorry I missed the Robb Field Octoberfest, it sounds like the VFW pig roast I went to with a old Vietnam cripple guy and his dog FAULKNER. This was back when you could walk among friends drinking a beer in the open air without a official security WRISTBAND. At least us old drunks have our memories, SECURITY has not found away to remove those YET.


JPinSD October 14, 2009 at 10:16 am

A couple of reviews on how I felt as well:

Taylor F.
Poorly Organized and overpriced!

To get in, there’s a $3 “donation”. Which isn’t an option, you have to “donate”. Basically its a cover, So just call it a cover!

They were making a killing at $6 a beer. Then the only food inside the fences is a bratwurst station. $7 a brat, 20 minute long line. Decent brat.
They actually have on the sign that the Brats are from Costco.
So they’re basically telling you that they paid 10 bucks for a 50 pack and are charging us 14x more.

The bands were weak for a paid event. And I didn’t really feel my german roots when they have reggae bands playing all day.

Dont get me wrong, my friends and I had a good time. The crowd was good and the vibe was good despite the overpriced everything…

But next year, please lower the beer prices a bit and if you’re going to charge cover, just call it cover and hire some good bands since we’re paying for it. I’d pay more cover if you had better bands. I’d maybe even “donate”

Jessica H.
I am new to San Diego and thought I would check out the oktoberfest in Ocean Beach. It takes place in a small fenced in parking lot, where you stand in a long line to get into the into the parking lot, then you stand in another line to buy drink tickets, then you stand in another line to get the beer. There were maybe two other vendors in the parking lot to buy food from and a large stage.

Basically, everyone enters the fenced in parking lot, gets their beers and just stands there.

There is live music so that was a plus and a few Oktoberfest like competitions. Next to the parking lot was ocean beach’s normal “street fair” with a few vendors and some places to eat.

Nothing like any other oktoberfest I have been too. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you like standing in a very crowded fenced in parking lot drinking beer. I understand it has to be fenced in because of the alcohol but it would have been nice if it was larger and more authentic.


Molly October 14, 2009 at 10:26 am

And here I thought I was the only one feeling this way about this years ‘fest.’ Why don’t we tell the OBMA who sponsored this far-cry from a real “Oktoberfest” that we ain’t coming next year, and in fact will actively boycott it UNLESS there are real changes.


OB Joe October 14, 2009 at 10:27 am

Molly, I don’t think a boycott is in order. Let’s just request a large switch – no more fests at the end of Newport UNLESS it contributes to the community’s infrastructure (school, library, life guard station). Please OBMA listen to these pleadings. Would someone from the OBMA please respond.


Editor October 14, 2009 at 10:29 am

Molly and OB Joe – you all must have received the memo this morning that all comments must have the word “unless” and be in all caps. Good job.


Shawn Conrad October 14, 2009 at 11:50 am

If there is beer and a cage surrounding it, you will never stop the sheep from gathering there.


OBSteven October 14, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I really appreciate the different events on Newport throughout the year. It must be difficult to organize those events. I personally don’t spend a lot of money at those things. I will go back to my apartment for bathroom and beer breaks. It’s a perk for being local. Kind of like being able to call in for Hodad’s rather than waiting in line.

It is really easy to sit back and be a Monday morning quarterback and find faults. Could things be better? Sure. I guess I grew up in a town that didn’t really have much stuff like this.
I am anxious to read what some of you will say after the Christmas Parade. “That Santa was not authentic!” “I could do a better job!” “That egg nog is from Costco, not the North Pole.”
It is much easier to sit back and complain than to go out and try to organize an event.
Why don’t you guys organize a Halloween costume parade down Newport? I would love to see your amazing skills in action.


JPinSD October 14, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I love all the events in OB, however this one is seriously lacking any reference to an Oktoberfest and I think that is the problem people are having with it.


OBSteven October 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Damn. I forgot something. UNLESS it doesn’t matter.


bodysurferbob October 14, 2009 at 3:27 pm

“bah humbug” and oktoberfest? aren’t you guys mixing up your holidays? okay oktoberfest isn’t a holiday but in germany it is.


Mary O October 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm

It is a free country and I am glad that all were able to enjoy themselves despite the costs, but costs are costs and they have all gone up! Granted a sign showing your donation dollars at work in the community would be nice, however something must be working well that this type of event and other activities in our community continue to lead in efforts to make OB what it is. But if a person would like to ask the questions and contribute their ideas in a public forum (not behind the curtain so to speak) they should join the two groups that help our community the most with events such as this. The OBMA and the Town Council are two organizations that work very hard throughout the year to raise money for various events and causes, and are always looking for people who are interested in making this community better. Without volunteers none of this would happen. My husband and I both enjoyed ourselves at this years Oktoberfest, we stayed until the last encore!


OBSteven October 14, 2009 at 9:51 pm

I hope that I can afford to live here forever. We should all by an apartment complex and live in it. I wish that I had moved here earlier, but I am so thankful that my heart found O.B. The best 7 years of my life.


PSD October 14, 2009 at 10:03 pm

The stein-holding contest. The brat toss. The oom-pah band on the all-ages stage. I’m digging for more things that make Oktoberfest different from the other handful of festivals that bus in a bunch of tourists and San Diegans from other nearby towns to drink, spend, and figuratively-if-not-always-literally defacate on OB. Anyone got more to add?

The pier parking lot corralled into a 21+ pay-to-play spot where you can pretend you’re “at the beach” while drinking inferior libation commanding superior prices. Mostly cool (and occasionally just tolerable) music that draws you into the aforementioned pit despite the heat emanating from the pavement and other grievances already detailed. A few cool local artisans (the guy with the surfboard floor rugs and a few photographers are just a couple regulars that are coming to mind), a few more selling generic trinkets likely purchased from some low-budget importer. Food stands: popcorn, lemonade, pizza, sausage. A family-friendly stage showcasing mellower-sounding local musicians and the only chairs in town at the end of the grass by the lifeguard tower. These are the constant elements of every local festival, the same festival held every few months with a different name.

As a local, it becomes something you walk around in 20-30 minutes before succumbing to numbing sameness. Given that, I’d assume that this gathering, be it Oktoberfest, the ‘glOBal Rock Fest’ (I think that’s what it was called), or whatever wasn’t entirely put on just for OBecians. The question, then posed: is this a bad thing? The way I see it, the sameness and the decidedly non-OBecian vibes of these things are the negatives. On the other side of the coin, folks from other parts of the town and world come, dump money into the local community, and get to experience a watered-down version of OB that hopefully leaves them with a positive opinion of the place. I get the feeling a lot of folks out there would prefer to drink ‘OB Lite’ even if someone offered them an ‘OB Genuine Draft.’

And OBSteven – when I get the bucks together to start Mattersville (song reference – anyone? anyone?) I’ll send you an application for a 40 year lease…


JPinSD October 15, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Theres a place where some of us choose to live
A gated community cops cant come in
A neighborhood for punks over the hill
Were spendin our golden years in mattersville
We can do whatever we want whenever we please
Theres always a keg of beer and a block of cheese
We got charams,pinball,asteroids,space invaders,and missile command….


raezin October 15, 2009 at 1:07 pm

I too was disappointed with the OB Oktoberfest. What kind of Oktoberfest has one stand that sells German food? and just bratwurst at that? and by Tarantinos? Tarantino doesn’t sound German to me. Is there a reason Kaiserhof doesn’t participate? I’m not being snarky…really, is there a reason? There obviously was demand for German food, you had wait an hour for the brats while all the other stands were virtually line-less. I didn’t go in the biergarten because the line was too long and beer too expensive. I might have gone in if there were a variety of German beers to sample. I hope its more of an Oktoberfest next year!


Mary October 15, 2009 at 1:19 pm

The biggest complaint I heard from people I know about Oktoberfest was the prices. $3 entry and $6 beers? Horrendous.

But here’s a tip. At 10am on the day of Oktoberfest, the Hash House Harriers host the Brat Trot. It’s a 5K run (about 3 miles), and in exchange for the $5 entry fee, you get two jello shots at checkpoints on the run itself, plus a wristband to get into the beer garden and 2 drink tickets (so $15 value plus whatever the jello shots cost). It’s the best deal going for Oktoberfest, and it’s fun.


Kathy October 18, 2009 at 11:28 am

Last year the Octoberfest theme band stayed at the stage in the grass, with “preferred” bands (raggae, rock & soul) at the Beer Garden. This year the bagpipes played a set at the Beer Garden, sending many to the streets & bars with better selection/prices. I went home until the next band scheduled for 7:30 (online schedule). That’s when I heard Psydecar (sp?) just played. If this was the “surprise” mentioned in the online ad, it was not a good one. There were not enough activities to hang out for 3 hours.

I also would like to know where the $3 & other profits go. Any $ reserved for the fire pits?

Those who asked why Octoberfest is no longer at Robb Field . . . NIMBY’s!
A few people feel entitled to make a lot of calls, which drives up the complaint index. The behavior repeats, repeats, repeats, until they get their way. Does the booze ban ring a bell?

OK, I’m turning off “bitch lock” on my keyboard.

I do appreciate the effort, but it’s so small scale & hardly festive compared to what we had, is it worth it? Most were +21 interested in drinking, dancing & socializing. Why not do a Halloween theme, from 4p.m. – midnight, 2 stages so 1 band plays while the other stage is in set up/break down mode. Better variety of drinks for non-beer drinkers, at least wine.


Kathy October 18, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Just to clarify, when I say the “surprise” was not a good one, the “surprise” was Psydecar performed & weren’t on the schedule. This was not good, because I missed their performance.


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