Parade set for this Saturday
The longest-running Oktoberfest kicks off this week in Helen, highlighted by a parade on Saturday, Sept. 7, at noon in downtown.
The 49th annual Oktoberfest begins on Thursday, Sept. 5, with the festivities taking place every weekend in September, before becoming a daily celebration beginning Thursday, Sept. 26.
“It’s always a welcoming event because it’s like the kickoff for Oktoberfest with the parade and tapping of the keg,” says Renee Green, Helen Chamber of Commerce executive director.
“It’s a big year for the 50th of the city, which in turn gets us ready for next year which is Oktoberfest 50th.”
The parade starts at noon on Edelweiss Strasse near the Helen Festhalle, before turning left onto Chattahoochee Strasse, then a right onto Main Street and into the heart of downtown Helen. The parade will end around Betty’s Country Store.
“We encourage everybody to make their way to the Festhalle and join us for the festivities,” Green says.
Because part of the parade goes down Main Street, traffic will be detoured during the parade. Northbound traffic will turn left onto River Street, right onto Unicoi Street, right onto Hamby Street and then left onto Main Street. Southbound traffic will do the opposite, turning right onto Hamby Street, left onto Unicoi Street, left onto River Street and right onto Main Street.
This year’s parade grand marshals are Terry and Harold Link, of Dawsonville. While they don’t live in White County anymore, the couple has been very involved in Helen.
“I think it’s a great honor,” says Terry Link. “We were one of the first ones to come to Helen. We were the first German family that came to Helen in 1976. We built the Old Heidelberg restaurant. We liked it so much and decided to stay. Harold used to play a lot with the old Heidelberg band at Oktoberfest. Harold, my husband, and Chris Hammerson started Fasching up there. Harold played at a lot of Fasching events in Germany and thought we should do it here.”
Oktoberfest will run Sept. 5-8, Sept. 12-15, Sept. 19-22, and Sept. 26 to Oct. 27. Festhalle admission is $8 Monday through Friday, $10 on Saturdays and free on Sundays. Admission for kids ages 6-12 is half off, and kids under 6 years old get in free.
Celebration times are weekdays from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fridays from 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 1 p.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit helenchamber.com.
The 2020 Oktoberfest dates are already available and can be found at helenchamber.com. In observance of the 50th anniversary of Oktoberfest, the 2020 event will be extended a week and will go from Sept. 10 to Nov. 8, Green says.