One of the best way to celebrate the changing seasons in Eastern Washington is to make a day or weekend trip to one of the communities that celebrates European roots with a festival. Odessa, WA celebrates its German-Russian roots with Deutsches Fest in September and Leavenworth celebrates its Bavarian theme with Oktoberfest.
Odessa, Washington was settled in the late 1800’s by German immigrants from the Volga region of Russia at the invitation of the Great Northern Railway. The families brought with them their German traditions as they settled down in east central Washington. Now a community of 1200, the residents of Odessa welcome about 20,000 visitors each year as they celebrate and share their love for their German roots.
Deutschesfest has been celebrated every third full week in September for more than 40 years. The festival is one of the largest small town celebration in the Pacific Northwest. People travel from all over the northwest to enjoy 3 full days of music, dancing, games, and food. Town volunteers work very hard all year to bring the festival to life. Festivities begin Thursday evening and continue through Sunday evening. Odessa is an easy drive from just about everywhere in the state. It’s located 75 miles from Spokane and 100 from Wenatchee.
During Deutschesfest visit Festplatz in the center of town where community groups and churches serve up yummy German dishes. Enjoy delicious locally made German food including cabbage rolls, German sausage, kraut ranzes, pretzels, pickles and strudel. In the Biergarten sample brews made by local brewery, Rocky Coulee Brewing Company.
If you’re an RV’er Odessa welcomes you. There are several places in town where you can park for the weekend. Shuttles will pick you up at various locations and deliver you to the center of town. See the webpage at the link above for details about where to park and the cost for a space.
Besides Deutschesfest in Odessa, several other communities in Eastern Washington, or a short drive from it, celebrate the coming of fall with a celebration of all things German. Leavenworth in the Cascade Mountain Range celebrates Oktoberfest for 3 weekends. 40,000 visitors enjoy domestic and imported beers on tap, German food, and music by bands from the US and Germany. A grand parade and ceremonial keg-tapping by the Leavenworth mayor on Saturday mark the the official beginning of the festival, but the biergarten is open on Friday evening with live music.
From Eastern Washington drive east to Coeur d’Alene, ID for their Downtown Oktoberfest on the first weekend in October. The dates in 2011 are September 30 & October 1.
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