Black, red and yellow flags will fly throughout Canonsburg this weekend as people crowd Pike Street for a taste of Germany at this year’s Oktoberfest.
The 21st Annual Greater Pennsylvania Bavarian Oktoberfest, presented by Budd Baer Subaru, will feature German food, beer and live music.
“It’s going to be a huge celebration this year,” Mayor Dave Rhome said.
Lonnie Flood, event coordinator for Greater Canonsburg Chamber of Commerce, is expecting between 50,000 and 60,000 people to attend the festival over the three days, which has been the norm in the last few years. It runs from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and will continue noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Carnival rides and crafting vendors will fill the downtown streets, as well as the aroma of authentic German cooking.
June and Rick Bruckner, owners of The Bluegrass Kitchen in Sharon, have a mouthwatering menu planned, that includes potato pancakes, German pastries, German crepes and bratwurst with sauerkraut and German mustard and homemade buns.
“My family is from Transylvania and we’re German-Saxon,” June said. “This is our first Oktoberfest that we’ve done here.”
They’ll also have two types of “hunkich Saxon pie,” one sweet with cherries and one savory, loaded with bacon and onions.
“These recipes all came from my grandmother’s journal,” June said. “Family is everything. We need to appreciate our history and the food we grew up with and share that legacy for our children.”
Flood said there will be more food vendors this year than ever before. People will be able to wash down pierogis and Bavarian cream puffs with a variety of beer selections.
AJ Williams, president of the chamber, said they plan on having two beer wagons at the festival, each with six taps. They’ll include a cucumber beer from Rusty Gold Brewing, Paulaner Oktoberfest, Leinenkugel’s harvest, Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest and two taps of Miller Light, since it’s their biggest seller.
“Everything we do for this is to replicate the actual Oktoberfest in Germany,” Williams said. “When Canonsburg does something, we do it right.”
That’s why the Slovenian Savings & Loan stage is dedicated to traditional German tunes every year, why carnival rides are available and why it’s always the third weekend in September – that’s how it’s done in Germany, Williams said.
Herman Helay will be walking through the crowds all weekend, playing his accordion. Jeffrey’s Drugstore sponsored the 9 p.m. fireworks show Friday, while the Ruff Creek band performs from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday’s headliner will be House of Soul, from 7:30 to 11 p.m. and NOMAD will perform from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Bavarian Bike Run, which hasn’t been done since 2010, will return Sunday. The ride will begin at 11 a.m. at Steel City Harley-Davidson and end in Canonsburg. The cost is $25 for riders, $15 for passengers and includes a t-shirt and drink ticket.
“One thing we’ve struggled with is to get people here on Sundays,” Williams said. “Usually, we’re fighting the Steelers’ game. We’re hoping this will bring people here.”
Flood, who’s been planning the event since last October, said the event and parking is always free. This year, she’s expecting the largest crowd, as they sold out of vendor booths.
“I love Canonsburg,” she said. “I believe in our town, and it’s growing.”
Williams said the public works department and whole borough comes together to make the event happen each year.
“We bring in, not only vendors and food and entertainment, but about 60,000 people to a town that is three square miles and a population of 10,000,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that the mayor and council are so accommodating. It’s such a collaboration of support.”