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American Oktoberfest

Photographer: Erik S.Lesser

 

Willkommen to the Alpine village of Helen. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, about 112 kilometers north of Atlanta, the small town transformed itself from a sleepy, former lumber town to a Bavarian-inspired tourist destination.

 

In 1968, a group of local businessmen began the task of resurrecting the village, giving an Alpine look to the entire town by working with a local artist who had spent time in Germany and who drew the sketches of the new facades.

 

Since 1970, the Oktoberfest has been celebrated amongst the gingerbread-trimmed buildings. Organizers then and now are inspired by the world's largest funfair and beer festival in Munich, Germany, held since 1810.

 

The revitalized village of Helen with less than 500 inhabitants, some of German descent, now hosts up to two million visitors a year. Many return annually to the Festhalle festival hall for Oktoberfest, now in its 44th year. The celebration runs from September through the first weekend of November.

 

Lederhosen-clad celebrants, plenty of German beer, freshly cooked sausages and live polka bands help to make the Oktoberfest an authentic affair.

 

In addition to Oktoberfest, the town invites guests to celebrate other holidays throughout the year including ‘Fasching’, the name Germans give to carnival, and the Dropping of the Edelweiss event on New Year’s Eve.