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Brats, brewskis and bluegrass
Bluegrass banjoman Jimmy Wolling (photo by Bailey Davidson)

THIS WEEKEND River Street will take a turn for the wurst.

A bratwurst tasting is part of the fun at the annual Oktoberfest celebration, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 30–Oct. 2. It’s one of those indisputable heralds of the coming of autumn. So you got your oompah band (the Rhinelanders), your brats ‘n’ beer, your lederhosen and your dachshund dash.

OK, so the official name for the latter is “Weiner Dog Racing,” but can’t we give the little guys some modicum of respect?

The competition starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Morrell Park section of River Street (that’s the eastern edge of Emmet Park, which is itself just a sort of grassy knoll).

Dachshund owners must pre–register their hounds, beginning at 8 a.m. Trophies will be awarded (and, hopefully, a tasty treat or two for the runners).

Local entertainers include Jeff Beasley, Individually Twisted, Brandon Giles & the Tricky Two, the Variations, Southern Explosion Dancers and Justine Blazer.

Oktoberfest also includes the weekly Friday night fireworks over the river, plus several arts and crafts stations. The always–thrilling sausage eating contest takes place Saturday afternoon at 2.

Admission is free, but you’ll have to pay for your food and drink.

Get your bluegrass on

Last year’s inaugural BBQ, Brews & Bluegrass event at the Roundhouse raised $25,000 for The Children’s Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center. Naturally, doing it again in 2011 was a no–brainer.

Heather Fountain is a founder of The Next Generation, the support group that spearheads fundraising efforts for the hospital. “It is our responsibility as a community to do all that we can to support the effort to ensure our children are receiving the best care,” she has said, and that’s hard to argue with.

Not only is it a good and righteous cause, there’s food (priced separately) from Smokin’ Pig and Whistle Stop Cafe, a beer and wine cash bar (sodas are free), and for the little folks, an array on fun stuff including two – count ‘em – two bounce houses, train rides, face painting, arts and crafts and a pumpkin patch.

More than 600 people attend the 2010 debut, and this time around, the music is even better: Headlining is longtime local banjo master Jimmy Wolling and his eponymous bluegrass band, which includes fiddler Scott Holton, Evan Rose on mandolin, Dennis Goldblaugh on guitar and Tim Burke on bass. They all sing that high lonesome harmony.

The Marshall Brothers, Stewart and Jim – the cornerstones of the great Savannah alt/country and bluegrass band Junkyard Angel – will also perform.

Oktoberfest on the River

Where: River Street

When: Sept. 30–Oct. 2


BBQ, Brews & Bluegrass Fundraiser

Where: The Roundhouse Railroad Museum, 303 MLK Jr. Blvd.

When: Sunday, Oct. 2, 3–7 p.m.

Tickets: $20 per person (age 12 and under admitted free)