Bring your lederhosen – but also a pair of bell bottoms for later on. After a day of beer, football, and polka dancing, this year’s Oktoberfest will feature the Fab Four, the “ultimate tribute band,” as the headliner.
The band was a hit in the past, said Shellabration president Jim Reed, recalling “the first-ever Shellabration event, back on Friday, July 3, 2002.
“It kind of kicked off our entire initiative,” he said.
It had all started as Reed was sitting at the bandshell in 2001, and it reminded him of an album he had, “The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl.”
“I thought, wouldn’t be cool if the Beatles had played the bandshell? I said, ‘Yeah, but that will never happen.’ Then I thought it would be cool to bring a Beatles tribute,” he said. “We started researching best Beatles tribute bands in the country, and the Fab Four was head and shoulders above the others.
“That event drew 4,210 people. Since then we’ve done many big shows. At the time, a concert in Fort Dodge drawing 4,000 people was unprecedented.”
As always, the event aims to attract a diverse range of people, Reed said.
During the day, there will be a huge beer tent and a wooden dance floor, and Midwest-based polka bands Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen, and Malek’s Fishermen will alternate sets.
“By day you’ll have tons of folks into polka and folk music that are out there in their traditional German garb. We’ll have men dressed in lederhosen, and women in dirndls, and people wearing hats and drinking from commemorative steins,” he said. “It’s a hoot.”
It’s actually very difficult to get good polka bands, Reed said, since every community tries to hold Oktoberfest at the same time. Barefoot Becky was booked two years ago for this show.
Since not everybody is into polka, Oktoberfest also will feature two giant TV screens showing college football all day.
“Basically, Oleson Park turns into the most eclectic German sports dance bar there is,” he said.
The Shellabration committee is lining up German foods and beers for the day. They always have the traditionals, Reed said: sauerbraten, bratwurst, hot German potato salad and sweet and sour red cabbage.
Ever since that first Shellabration struck a chord with the community, people have been asking when he would bring the Fab Four back, Reed said.
“We wanted to, but when you only have two creative outlets per year, in Shellabration and Oktoberfest, you don’t want to do too many repeats,” Reed said.
But this year, bringing them back made perfect sense.
“This is year five, we wanted to grow it. And we thought the Fab Four would be the act that would allow us to grow the audience,” he said. “This event should be drawing 1,800 to 2,000 people if we do it right.”