Oktoberfest brought a little bit of German tradition to the Lehigh Valley, featuring German-inspired food, breweries, live music, dachshund races and more.
The free festival, presented by the Lehigh Valley International Airport, is now in its 12th year. It was held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at the Steelstacks and will return on Oct. 7 to Oct. 9.
Oktoberfest featured a spread of food this year, from pierogis to bacon on a stick to stroopwafels.
Aaron Holmes and Travis Washington were vendors at the festival. Their newest endeavor is a mobile bacon stand that travels along the east coast.
Before the Philadelphia locals began selling bacon, Washington said they worked at an ax throwing stand, which has been featured at Oktoberfest for the past three years.
Holmes said they thought of the concept of a Bacon on a Stick stand in 2021 while on the road traveling from festival to festival.
The duo had wanted to enter the food industry, but struggled finding something easy to make and delicious, so they settled on bacon.
“It’s so simple and so appealing,” Holmes said. “We bring bacon to the people!”
Washington said the stand has been a hit among festival-goers.
Holmes said their newly introduced flavor, cinnamon bourbon, has become an Oktoberfest staple.
“Bacon pairs with a whole lot of different flavors,” Washington said.
Despite the rainy weather, the Oktoberfest turnout remained the same as prior years. “It’s a staple of the community,” Washington said.
“Oktoberfest has been great,” Washington said. “People expect a good time, and that’s exactly what they get.”
The festival features a variety of specialty stands, as well.
Marj and Roy Epp, who hail from Sellersville, Pennsylvania, started attending craft festivals as vendors 15 years ago. Now, they specialize in making pet sacks.
Roy Epp said the couple has been selling their crafts at Oktoberfest for the past four years.
“We just love the energy and the people that come,” Roy Epp said. “It’s a lot of enjoyment for us.”
Marj Epp said the couple’s central focus is repurposed fabrics. They have created several types of crafts over the years using different recycled materials.
Marj Epp began her creative endeavor by hand painting designs on women’s shirts and jackets. From there, she moved on to mittens, scarves and hats made out of old sweaters.
“Once everyone jumped on that bandwagon, we came up with a pet sack made out of repurposed fabrics,” Marj Epp said.
The Epps plan to retire their Oktoberfest stand after this year’s festival, but they said they will continue visiting the festival.
They said they feel the festival has changed since they first began attending. Marj Epp said over the years, Oktoberfest has become less “traditionally German,” as traditional German garb and dancing was more prevalent in the past.
Now, she said the majority of the crowd is Lehigh students. In the past, both Marj and Roy said the crowd was closer to their peer group, made up of people in their sixties.
The couple said they are not disappointed in this shift towards a younger crowd and feel as though the festival needs to change as it attracts new groups of people.
“I’ll come back every year no matter what,” Roy Epp said.
Dean Freiman, ‘25, said he attended Oktoberfest the previous year during Pacing Break.
Freiman said he was most excited about seeing the drag show for the second time.
Dragtoberfest, a free drag show, was held at the PNC Plaza at Steelstacks on Oct. 1.
According to the SteelStacks website the event, directed by performer Elektra Fearce St. James, featured performances from some of the Lehigh Valley’s best drag queens.
“My favorite part of Dragtoberfest was being able to celebrate gay culture with my friends,” Freiman said.
“At Lehigh, a lot of the time, people don’t know about events going on in town,” Freiman said. “But there are a lot of really great places to check out.”