Pats Peak annual ‘homecoming’ is a chance to feel the fall

Union Leader Correspondent
October 30. 2013 7:25PM

HENNIKER — Though the highlights of most Oktoberfest celebrations may be beer and bratwurst, at Pats Peak Ski Area, the annual event marks the beginning of a new ski season.

“Beer and bratwurst are great,” said Jim Wall, director of services at Pats Peak, “but for us, Oktoberfest is really kind of a homecoming.”

Oktoberfest will be celebrated on Pats Peak on Sunday, Nov. 3, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and features a breadth of activities for kids and grown-ups.

Wall said the annual event reminds him of homecomings celebrated at high schools in the Midwest where he grew up, but instead of college kids returning to their alma maters, it’s staff and instructors coming back to the mountain.

Though the ski area works with a skeleton crew of about 25 during the off-season, Wall said at Oktoberfest, many of the 900 to 1,000 seasonal employees, including 300 ski instructors, pay a pre-season visit to the mountain to hoist a stein and reconnect before the snow starts to fly.

“We see faces at Oktoberfest that we haven’t seen since last March,” said Wall.

Many of the mountain’s customers and season’s pass holders also attend the event to cash in on the last discounted passes of the season, and to attend the ski and snowboard sale held as part of the day’s activities. The sale runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and donated items that are sold to benefit a junior ski-racer non-profit.

“The Ski and Snowboard Sale is an excellent opportunity to get excited for upcoming winter season by buying new equipment for ski season,” said Wall.

The Oktoberfest celebration at Pats Peak is free, and includes all the trappings of an authentic German festival including German food, beer, and the music of King Ludwig’s Bavarian Band.

To get a bird’s-eye view of the festivities, there will be chairlift rides, and the rugged types will enjoy both the woodsmen show and the timberart chainsaw sculpture demonstrations. The New Hampshire Cowboy Mounted Shooters will perform their daring tricks, and a few brave souls will show off their skijoring skills (skiing while being pulled by horses, dogs or even cars).

“The Oktoberfest celebration is the place to be to celebrate fall. “Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, it’s a fun time to hang out and take in the gorgeous views of the mountain.”

And while the 11th annual Oktoberfest may include adult beverages, the event is always family-friendly, said Wall.

“Everything we do here at Pats Peak has to pass the family litmus test,” Wall said. “Our face painting line is always longer than the beer line.”

A special place for kids called “Bear-varia” is the center of activity for the younger set and includes candy apple decorating, the donut dangle, keg bowling, and a bouncy house that resembles a castle.

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