Fall festivals
Popular and unusual events for the season
The great thing about the fall season  1here in the Pacific Northwest is the amazing variety of festivals and fall events. Summer's long gone, the kids are back in school, but the weather's still decent and people still want to get out and travel during the fall months.

Northwest communities go out of their way to squeeze a lot of great events into a few fall weekends. Here is a look at some of the more popular events -- as well as the more unique opportunities to get out and do something different.

Leavenworth Oktoberfest

The Leavenworth Octoberfest is one of the biggest festivals in the Pacific Northwest and especially beautiful because visitors get to sample mountain scenery in the fall.

The famous Bavarian Village of Leavenworth always comes alive with the many visitors who make it a point to take in Octoberfest each year. This year it's going to be held three weekends in a row starting on September 30.

You'll want to book your lodging early, which always fills up fast. If you can't find something in Leavenworth, Wenatchee is just an easy 25-minute drive and also features many visitor services and attractions of its own. Once you get settled in for the festival, you'll find there is free transportation in Leavenworth to get you around to the various beer halls, arts and crafts exhibits and other attractions that make Leavenworth so memorable.

There is lots of good German food available in Leavenworth, all served up in the European atmosphere of the Bavarian Village. It seems that nearly every restaurant has some kind of bratwurst for sale, or you might want to visit one of the outdoor beer gardens to enjoy German beer and the best bratwurst this side of Munich.

For beer lovers, there will be a Keg Tapping Ceremony held at 1 p.m. every Saturday during the festival. The mayor follows the Bavarian tradition of "tapping the keg" and we suspect people are standing in line to become mayor of Leavenworth. Traditional Oktoberfest music will follow the ceremony, making the entire experience festive indeed.

For more information, please visit www.leavenworthoktoberfest.com.

Bothell Beer Festival

Enjoy a cold brew, great food and live music at the second annual Bothell Beer Festival set for Saturday, October 17 from 12 to 6 p.m. in downtown Bothell. Tickets are $20 and $25 and include tasting glass and six tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets available for $2 each or three for $5. This is an adults only event.

Around 20 breweries and several food booths will be on hand along with bands and other musical artists. And best news is the party doesn't have to end. The Hop & Hound off Main Street in Bothell will be hosting the official after party steps away from the entrance/exit. They will have many of the special beers served at the Beer Festival, discounts with wristband and the grilled cheese experience food truck on site.

For more information, please go to www.bothellchamber.biz.

Snowhomish BrewFest

Snohomish Brewfest is Snohomish county's premier beer festival, according to the organizers. People come from far and wide to sample the best offerings from a myriad of local breweries who are showcasing their latest beers all under one roof. Enjoy mouthwatering food, a safe and fun environment, and a chance to speak directly to the brewers.

This year it's Friday, October 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, October 29 from 12 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. It will be held in downtown Snohomish

It's an adults-only event and along with the beer comes lots of food. While many people often like bringing a homemade pretzel necklace to wear at the event, Java Haus will be offering chicken sliders and the event will have brats with sauerkraut along with brownies to satisfy your sweet tooth.

A general admission ticket is $30, $35 if purchased at the door. There also is a $10 designated driver admission ticket. Both admission tickets include a $5 food voucher.

More information is at www.snohobrewfest.com.

Cider Fest

You no doubt have figured out that a lot of wineries are expanding their business models to include hard cider, and that fine drink will be a big part of the Cider Fest at Orondo Cider Works, October 8 and 9, all day beginning at 10 a.m.

Orondo is between Wenatchee and Chelan in North Central Washington, on the east side of the Columbia River. This event is put on by Orondo Cider Works, 1 Edgewater Drive, which has a lot of other things going for it as well. Festivities will include bin train rides and orchard tours, with activities for kids and adults. The Kid Zone will have an obstacle course, games like yard twister and noodle javelin, and a plenty of toys to help keep the little ones busy.

Cider Works is free except for some small incidental charges for certain kids rides. Music will include fun classic 60s and 70s rock and roll performed by Waterdog, along with a performance by classic country singer Jesse Taylor. Hard cider tasting begins at 11 a.m. with seven vendors pouring cider for $1 a taste. A homemade taco bar will provide plenty to eat.

For more information, please visit www.orondociderworks.com or phone 509-784-1029.

Brew at the Zoo

When you think of a zoo, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not beer -- but Seattle's famous Woodland Park Zoo is following a trend toward more beer-tasting events and festivals with its sixth annual Brew at the Zoo. If you live in Seattle or happen to be in Seattle Thursday, Oct. 6, this is a fun annual event.

They'll have microbrews and ciders from over 40 different breweries and serve them in locations that allow you to enjoy your tasting while getting an up-close look at many of the zoo animals.

They don't open the entire zoo for people going to the Brew at the Zoo, but your ticket does qualify for a discount if you come back to visit the zoo soon. Meanwhile, visitors to the event will enjoy not just beers, ales and ciders, but also food in what promises to be a festive occasion and, we think, a great idea for date night.

For more information, visit www.zoo.org.

Lake Chelan Crush

Visit the wineries of Lake Chelan in October and experience the joy of winemaking. During the weekends of October 1-2 and October 8-9 there will be special demonstrations and harvest related events at all participating wineries in the Lake Chelan Valley.

Visitors can take short hops between the local wineries to observe first-hand the steps involved in grape harvest and wine production, including the opportunity to interact with the growers and winemakers and sample the award-winning wines of the region. Local restaurants will feature specialty food items paired with distinctive local wines and there will be places for visitors to kick off their shoes to stomp grapes the old-fashioned way.

Lake Chelan Wine Valley was recognized as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the Federal Register in April of 2010 . Several features distinguish the Lake Chelan Wine Valley from its neighboring AVAs including its elevation, soil derived from the crystalline granite of the Cascade Mountains, location in the rain shadow of the Northern Cascadee, distinctive U-shaped topography and vineyards located around Lake Chelan that capitalize on the lake effect of moderate air temperatures.

For more information visit www.lakechelanwinevalley.com.

CrabFest

Some of our favorite fall events in the Northwest are the food festivals. And one of the really big ones is the 15th Annual Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival set for October 7th through 9th in Port Angeles.

This is a great excuse to head out to the gorgeous Olympic Peninsula. Crabfest, as the festival has come to be known, has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Events in North America. Magazines rave about the festival and its combination of great food and Puget Sound scenery.

With CrabFest, It's all about great food and fresh crab. Thousands of pounds of Dungeness crab are pulled from local waters each year, enabling festival-goers to savor the freshest crab available while also enjoying a wide variety of locally grown and produced foods.

There's a huge tent where there will be an old-fashioned crab-feed complete with large whole crabs, fresh corn and cole slaw. Also, nearby there will be 14 local and regional restaurants serving up everything from crab cakes to gumbo. There also will be live music.

For more information on CrabFest, visit www.crabfestival.org, or phone 360-452-6300.

Oysterfest

Another great food festival is held in Shelton, Washington, just a short drive from the state capital of Olympia. Oysterfest, as you might expect, is all about oysters.

Scheduled for October 1st and 2nd this year, the event is attended by thousands and features oysters, wines, microbrews, live music and just a great time. It's also home to the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championships and is designated as Washington State's official seafood festival. Oysterfest includes a food pavilion with nearly 100 unique items on the menu: BBQ oysters, fritters, spring rolls, garlic shrimp, fresh cider and a lot more.

And, interestingly, Oysterfest also features a number of exhibits -- many of which are hands on. For example, children and adults enjoy many opportunities to learn about the mudflats and tidal zones that serve as the humble oysters habitat, and how they can help to protect and enjoy our local waters.

For more information, please visit www.oysterfest.org.
PHOTOS: Bavarian Village of Leavenworth
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