Yes, it is a little funny to hold a traditionally German celebration in a Danish community like Solvang. However, organizers of the second annual Oktoberfest use the event as a way to raise funds for the Solvang Festival Theater and to honor local breweries—and Danish Solvang is all about supporting the local community.
“We were looking for a different kind of fundraiser that would become the major support event for the theater, and the idea of Oktoberfest started with our board member Billy Hurbaugh,” said Ed Prutzman, chairman of Solvang Theaterfest, the nonprofit that owns and operates the Solvang Festival Theater.
Oktoberfest will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Solvang Festival Theater and will feature traditional Bavarian fare and delicacies, an Old World oom-pa-pa band, dancing, a sing-along, and a live auction. All three microbrewers from the Santa Ynez Valley—Firestone Walker Brewing, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, and the Solvang Brewing—will be tapping their kegs at the festival. Local wineries will also participate.
“We will be serving the same sausages we had donated last year from a German deli in Southern California. There were several styles of authentic German recipes and everyone devoured them!” said Barbara Radom, chair of the Oktoberfest event.
“The first Oktoberfest was extremely successful and people kept saying how much fun it was and they couldn’t wait for the next one. Anytime we can get people from the community to have a great time and support the arts, we consider that a win,” Prutzman said. Last year’s Oktoberfest attracted roughly 80 patrons and brought in $10,000 in donations from ticket sales and auction items; the goal for this year is $15,000.
The proceeds from Oktoberfest will go directly into maintaining the theater. “People don’t understand the theater is entirely supported by the community through donations. The theater and PCPA are separate organizations,” Prutzman said, adding that there is a long laundry list of items to get done. In the last three years, after a capital campaign, Solvang Theaterfest completed putting in new stage flooring, built a new bar in the patrons’ area, added new tables and chairs, and also replanted the front flower beds, according to Judy Canby, business manager.
PCPA’s summer programs brought in more than 15,000 people to the theater, and 20,000 to 25,000 came to the theater last year for a number of events. The Solvang Festival Theater is used not only by PCPA but by community nonprofit organizations and for-profit groups, Canby added.
“We hope to figure out a way to make patrons more comfortable and help shield them from the elements. Anyone who has been to the theater on a chilly night can attest to how welcome that would be! But that is a major project for the future,” Prutzman said.
Oktoberfest advance tickets are $65 per person if reservations are made by Oct. 3, and $85 per person after that date. Reservations can be made through the Solvang Theaterfest Business Office Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 439 Second St., Solvang or by calling 686-1789.
INFO: For more information on Solvang Theaterfest, log onto their new website at www.solvangfestivaltheater.org.