Helen, Georgia Oktoberfest
Helen, Georgia is a small town up in the North-Eastern Georgia mountains. Honestly, it's in the middle of nowhere, but the drive up is gorgeous. En-route to Helen you drive past the Ocoee, and following the TN/GA border all the way over and briefly dipping into North Carolina before venturing back down into Georgia.
Sister-cities with Füssen, Bavaria. Helen was once a quaint logging town. But as the industry left, the town suffered. In the sixties the town implemented a city ordinance, mandating that all buildings be of a Bavarian style, and gave the town new life as a small Alpine Village. The weekends get pretty hectic in Helen, especially through September, October, and November. With other events happening periodically year-round. Each year, for the entire month of October, Helen hosts its Annual Oktoberfest.
The first time I visited Helen it was actually a bit of a last minute affair. A friend hit me up the night before and asked if I wanted to join them for Oktoberfest the next day. A two and a half hour drive to the mountains of Georgia? Sure, I'm up for an adventure.... so I went. I'll admit, I had never heard of Helen at this point. In my mind, we were headed to what was essentially the equivalent of a county fair, but with more beer. So once we actually arrived in Helen, and I saw the strange little buildings rise over the hill... I new I was in for a treat.
Helen is by no means a large place. So when Oktoberfest rolls around, especially on a Saturday, there are certainly shenanigans. Ever since going several years back, I've always wanted to return. So naturally, it seemed like something perfect for Brew Chatt to check out.
Once we got there we grabbed some great German food, and then promptly grabbed our mugs and some beer. One of the things I loved about visiting Helen's Oktoberfest Celebration was the variety of good beer, I immediately noticed a lack of regular domestics. The only domestic beers I saw the entire time I was there were Bud Light and Miller Lite. The day was filled with an incredible array of German, Bavarian, and Belgian beers. It was pure ecstasy.
As the day progressed and people's inhibitions began faltering, we saw the greatness that is Helen come out.
We've worked and filmed quite a number of beer and alcohol related events. One thing we've noticed is that there is a certain point where a line is crossed, and not in a bad way. Typically being a wee bit more sober than the rest of the patrons of these events, we see it the moment it happens. There's about a 30 minute transition of where you begin to see the beer do its work. People start dancing, shouting, and the revels have begun. In Helen, Georgia this started to happen earlier than any event we have attended. It was amazing.
What's also amazing, and you will be able to see it in our Oktoberfest video we will be putting out in the next few weeks. There were swathes of different people in Helen this weekend; Black, White, Indian, Hispanic, European. But they weren't just there, they were talking, dancing, and celebrating. This above all else is one of the main reasons that I love beer. Yeah, it gets you drunk, which is great. But great beer is why we were all there. This was even more evident as the day went on.
One of our last stops before heading back home to Chattanooga was a small un-named bar that was really no larger than a 25x25 ft room. I stumbled upon this dive several years back and loved it so I always enjoy going back. I was told that this bar is the owner's private bar, and he only opens it up on Saturdays during Oktoberfest. While we were sitting there among the small but (sort of) exclusive crowd, I was noticing the diversity of the room. This is when we struck up a conversation and rapport with a local Georgia motorcycle club. These guys were great, they told us about how much they love coming to Helen for Oktoberfest, bought us a few rounds, and even gave me his "Daytona Beach Bike Week" shirt. The reason being that mine was not nearly manly enough, which I may have agree on. After making a few new friends, and finishing our drinks, we headed back to Chattanooga.
I would recommend a trip to Helen, Georgia for anyone. Even if you don't enjoy beer, there is still plenty to check out. It makes for a great day trip from Chattanooga and I may be crazy, but I swear the trip back takes less time. But either way, there are still a couple more weekends of Oktoberfest, and their Halloween Oktoberfest weekend should be a solid hoot. So if you find yourself with nothing to do next weekend, go check it out.
Check out our Helen, GA Oktoberfest 2016 gallery, and stay tuned for Brew Chatt Oktoberfest Special.