The lingering merriment of Oktoberfest prevails into the early weeks of November here in Western North Carolina. Sweater weather often takes its sweet time getting to the South, which is all the more reason to extend Oktoberfest into late fall.
The town of Tryon has learned a valuable lesson in extended conviviality. It will host the annual Tryon Beer Fest for the fourth year this month, offering another reason to toast the final moments of autumn.
“The weather is knock-on-wood wonderful,” says Joe Pullara, chairman of the Tryon Beer Fest planning committee. “The leaves are changing, and it’s an outdoor festival, so you get a great view of the mountains.”
The rolling Blue Ridge foothills are certainly gentler than the Bavarian Alps, but the joviality of a German Oktoberfest is not lost on the beer-loving crowds that gather in Tryon. An oompah band will kick off the Bavarian theme, along with offerings of bratwurst, kraut, and other German fare.
But don’t break out the lederhosen just yet; clam diggers might be more appropriate for this occasion. The festival will throw in some coastal charm with the return of its oyster roast. Yes, oysters in the mountains.
One of the festival’s organizers, Bill Crowell, is known for his oyster-roasting prowess. He brings his skills to parties and events throughout the area, and last year’s bipedal experiment went so well they’ve done away with the pre-purchase requirement this year. Oysters are for everyone.
Combining oysters with Bavarian fare might seem incongruous, but the Tryon Beer Fest prides itself on being original.
“It’s a unique festival in that it’s a small town and it’s got a small-town feel to it,” Pullara says. “I’ve been to lots of the big festivals and they’re great, but we don’t want to have big, long lines for the food or beer.”
In an effort to keep the atmosphere relaxed, the festival will be capped at 1,200 tickets this year. Cover band Suburban Angst will bring the party all the way from Atlanta, but local beer options will abound. Expect pours from Highland Brewing Company, French Broad Brewery, Tryon’s own Bottle Tree Beer Co., and many others.
“Our whole goal is to have a fun event that is comfortable and really promotes friends and community,” says Pullara. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
The fourth annual Tryon Beer Festival happens Saturday, November 7, from 12-6pm in the Tryon Depot Plaza. See www.tryonbeerfest.com for more information.