Across the bay in Tampa proper, a different kind of Oktoberfest was taking place at Curtis Hixon Park last weekend. As far as Tampa Bay area Oktoberfests go, Oktoberfest Tampa is the new kid on the block. It’s only in its 6th year, but already it has been listed as one of the 10 biggest Oktoberfests in the Country. It is pretty big. Curtis Hixon Park was filled with beer & food tents, and hundreds of people were eating in the park and wandering around with refillable Liter steins.
The entertainment began the moment I walked through the gate. A brass band was playing a Bavarian-style cover of Kansas’s “Carry On Wayward Son.” As I continued walking through the park, I witnessed the Ladies Stein Holding competition and listened to a mixture of modern and classic German & American hits played by DeLeon on the main stage. A schedule of music & activities wasn’t really necessary because the music & entertainment were constant. Children played tug-of-war and rolled empty kegs across the lawn, and as I ordered my lunch, the Gulf Coast Shuhplattlers were performing on yet another stage.
Taking into account both the music selection and the average age of those attending, Oktoberfest Tampa is the Bay area’s younger, hipper Oktoberfest. In some ways, Oktoberfest Tampa is a reflection of the City of Tampa itself, where the median age is 34.5 compared to the entire Tampa Bay area’s 43.85. News Channel 8 recently reported a 70% increase in the number of young adults (25 to 34-yr-olds) living in downtown Tampa in the past decade, hypothesizing that the recent population boom is likely due to the sun, water, new jobs, and new development.
Living in a downtown area requires a certain degree of youth and/or good health, as limited parking forces residents to hoof it more often. Even with public parking garages in relatively close proximity to the park, it’s not hard to work up a sweat walking around Curtis Hixon Park in 90° weather (Note: it’s not so hot in the evenings). But if you can tolerate the walking and the heat, there’s a lot of fun to be had and a lot of brats to be eaten here.