A little bit of Bavaria is coming to Barton Hill as Shaftesbury hosts two evenings of traditional German music and merriment.
Oktoberfest has been arranged by Stalbridge-based Tim Messinger. Tim is director of Oakleaf Marquees, so it won’t surprise you to learn that all of the autumn evening event will be undercover.
It’s not the first time Tim has arranged this type of function either. He used to be a professional event organiser and put on a pre-Christmas show locally last year. “I organised something similar in Stalbridge in December called Yulefest, with live bands, German-style sausages and an oompah band. It was great!” Tim explained.
The Shaftesbury Oktoberfest, on the 12th and the 13th of October, will remain true to the traditional German celebration. “The music will be authentic. We have two different oompah bands playing and all the lagers will be German,” said Tim. “We will have four. We haven’t selected them yet but last time we had Erdinger and those kinds of beers,” he added.
“One of the bands – The Bierkellar Boys – is coming from Hampshire. The other band is called Bierfass, which means beer barrel. They are based in Wimborne and Ringwood. They’ll get the crowd going with a bit of thigh slapping and games,” said Tim.
The oompah bands will perform between 7pm and 9pm. A DJ will provide the music from 5pm to 7pm and local bands will play covers and well known songs to end the evening between 9pm and 11pm.
Tim is hoping that Shastonians will get into the spirit and sport Bavarian style clothing. “We’re trying to encourage people to dress up in their lederhosen,” Tim said. You won’t find leather shorts in Squires, or a dirndl in Shirley Allum, so Tim says they’ll offer outfit advice on their social media nearer the time.
“We will be telling people where they can get outfits from cheaply and authentically. You can certainly get it on Amazon and eBay. We will try to get some T-shirts printed with lederhosen on them as well. It is a sort of halfway point,” said Tim.
Although there will be German food on offer, including plenty of sausages, Tim has booked additional food vendors. “We have a pizza company that makes nice stone-baked pizzas including vegetarian and gluten-free options. We hope to have a hog roast as well. There will be a coffee stand and there’ll be two main bars as well.”
If you like the sound of Oktoberfest, you might want to buy your tickets soon. Steve says once all of the tickets are sold it won’t be possible to turn up on the day and gain entry. “We are capped at 499 people on each of the nights,” he explained. “That’s the reason we’re doing this over two nights. It’s not very nice to turn people away. I think that the Saturday night seems to be selling quicker at the moment. I imagine it will sell out, possibly a week or two before. Hopefully we will have some capacity on the Friday.”
Tim reckons there will be demand for tickets from people across Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset. “We have already sold tickets to people from the south of Dorset. It’s likely that people will come from 20 or 30 miles away. Oktoberfests are becoming more popular now. You can find them in Bath and Bristol and those sorts of places. People love this kind of thing. I think people will travel.”
The event will take up a large part of the Barton Hill green space. “The whole of that circle in the middle,” explained Tim. “The main area, the hall, is going to be a very big marquee. It’ll have various supporting structures around that for bars, merchandise and, if possible, we’re going to have an acoustic area where you can go and chill out, eat some food and listen to some piano or saxophone music. The whole circle will be filled with structures and possibly even tepees.”
Tim is confident that his infrastructure will be robust enough to withstand the unpredictable British weather. “It will all be undercover. And it will be on a wooden floor, which is raised up off the ground. It would have to be something biblical to call it off. The marquees that we use are good for 90 mile-an-hour winds. It’s not something that is going to be cancelled. We also have heating systems so it will be comfortable.”
The event is a commercial operation but Tim says he’s not in it for big bucks. “I think if we sell every ticket, we make about £1,000. We’re not going to end up retiring,” he smiled.
Tim understands that some residents may be concerned about noise. He says that his team has tried to address this matter when planning the event. The sound system will be placed strategically, in an effort to prevent music disturbing nearby homes. There will be a fixed closing time too. “The music will finish at 11pm and everybody will be out by midnight. I don’t think 11pm is too bad,” he said.
So is this a tester for future events in and around Shaftesbury? From Tim’s comments, it appears there’s an appetite for Oktoberfest. “From the interest we’ve had, and ticket sales, it does bode well. I’m hoping that the Oktoberfest will return and that it will become an annual thing,” said Tim.
Tickets are £10 or £15, depending on whether you want a seat. The event is for over 18s only. You can buy tickets at ShaftesburyOktoberfest.co.uk.