At Oktoberfest’s new location in Rivertown, there’s plenty of room to drink and dance

Chicken-dancers will take over the streets of Kenner’s Rivertown over the next three weekends, along with German beer, food and entertainment, at the annual Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest.

With its headquarters on South Galvez Street demolished to make way for the LSU Medical Center, this is the third year Deutsches Hause has held the fall festival in the historic Kenner enclave along the Mississippi River.

The fun kicks off Friday.

“We are going to have the mayor (Mike Yenni of Kenner) tap the first keg on Friday night, which is what the mayor of Munich does when they start off Oktoberfest,” said Keith Oldendorf, president of Deutsches Haus.

“We will also have the German choir, both the men’s and ladies, for the opening ceremony as well.”

The festival is open on upcoming Fridays and Saturdays in October, kicking off at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. On Saturdays, doors open at 1 p.m. and the polkas, toasts and dining continue until 11 p.m. each night.

The big draws are authentic German food and beer and oompah music, along with good-natured staff, volunteers and visitors decked out in traditional Bavarian dress.

That would be the trachten hiking hat, adorned with a tuft of goat hair, for men, and a dirndl (bodice, blouse and full skirt with apron) for ladies.

With 16 beers on tap and an extensive menu that includes home-cooked German classics such as bratwurst, sauerkraut, meatloaf, red cabbage and German potato salad, visitors may be hard pressed to find room for the famous German pretzel. Especially the newest version of the treat.

“This year, we have the traditional large, and the Munich giant-sized pretzel, which is a two-hander pretzel,” Oldendorf said.

Other traditional highlights are yodeling and the polka bands that have everyone hitting the dance floor, most notably for the “Der Ententanz,” known and loved hereabouts as “The Chicken Dance.”

What started out as a wedding celebration with the people of Munich for Prince Ludwig I to his Princess Therese in German Bavaria in 1810 quickly turned into a celebration of all things German that has spread throughout the world.

“We have had an Oktoberfest in New Orleans as long as the Deutsches Haus has been around, which has been since 1928,” said Oldendorf. “At first it was just within the Deutsches Haus, but in the 1960s or so we opened it up to the public.”

There are also special events each weekend.

Every Friday and Saturday night, men and women alike are encouraged to show off their strength in the Masskrugstemmen, the Beer Stein Holding Contest, holding a one-liter stein filled to the top with beer (about five-pounds) at arm’s length for as long as they can.

If you would rather drink your beer than test your triceps with it, maybe the Dachshund races are more your thing.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, visitors can cheer on their favorite wiener dog as the hounds race for a treat.

As an antidote to all the beer and food, there’s an Oktoberfest 5k at 5 p.m. Oct. 19.

And connoisseurs of German wine can finish off Oktoberfest by trying the variety of flavors from the German, Austrian and Alsace regions at the Oktoberfest Wine Tasting at 5 p.m. Oct. 26.

The $30 ticket to the wine tasting includes admission to the rest of Oktoberfest.

Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest

WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays Oct. 11-26,

Friday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday

1 p.m. to 11 p.m.

WHERE: Rivertown, 415 Williams Blvd., Kenner.

COST: $6 (12 and younger free).