These past two weekends, Los Angeles residents made their way downtown sporting their traditional German lederhosen and dirndl garments for Grand Central Market’s debut Oktoberfest event. Located on Broadway, this Los Angeles landmark has been a cherished space for multicultural dining and community events since its establishment in October of 1917. Now, just under 106 years later, their first Oktoberfest is officially in the books.
Oktoberfest took place on the lower level of the market, which offered a generous space for guests to drink, dance, and take pictures. General entry for the all-ages festival started at just $15, however, attendees had the option to purchase a $25 special entry ticket, which included a Grand Central Market souvenir boot filled with beer.
Aniesse Savo, Director of Special Events at Grand Central Market, proposed the idea of hosting an Oktoberfest celebration onsite. “There aren’t many Oktoberfest celebrations in Los Angeles,” Savo said. “So we really wanted to try to be the Los Angeles Oktoberfest.”
The beer garden hosted authentic German vendors, including Hofbrau Munchen and Paulaner, as well as the market’s very own Golden Road Brewing. Hammerstein Musik Bavaria, a German four-piece band, and a spirited emcee covered the entertainment portion of the event. Towards the back of the party room, guests engaged in ongoing games of beer pong and were able to shop and purchase custom Grand Central Market Oktoberfest merchandise.
Community outreach and providing a place for residents in and beyond the neighborhood to gather have always been vital aspects of Grand Central Market’s mission. “We’ve been here since 1917,” said Justin Leyvas, General Manager of Grand Central Market. “We already have a lot of organic foot traffic and we are such a hub in the community. For us, it’s important that we do these kinds of events.”
The space featured elegant, yet on-theme decorations. White wisteria vines and blue and white pennant banners hung from the ceiling. The environment captured the essence of the German celebration, with rows upon rows of picnic tables, haystacks, and barrels and kegs.
“It took roughly a month of really focusing on the event itself and trying to create the foreplan, the logistics, and what activities we should include,” Savo said. “We also did a little mix of DIY, as well as getting some already made items.”
As the event progressed, the band and emcee amused the crowd with traditional Oktoberfest tunes, drinking games, and lessons of German chants and phrases. Guests enthusiastically responded with singing, dancing, and even some tabletop chugging.
“I have to say the band is my favorite part of our Oktoberfest,” Savo said. “They’re so cool, I can’t keep my eyes off them…and when they start incorporating some games and some breaks, it’s just like laughter all around.”
Taylor Lau, a senior from LMU, attended Oktoberfest this past Saturday and felt immersed in the high spirits of the festivities. “It felt like a little bit of a culture change,” Lau said. “This Oktoberfest celebration, and the market itself, made me realize how diverse Los Angeles is.”
Historically, Grand Central Market has served as a miniature universe for immigrant populations to showcase the things that shape them. “We want to create special, memorable events where we can utilize this space,” Leyvas said. “It’s really important to do these special events. Everybody loves this place.”
Over the two weekends, Grand Central Market brought in hundreds of guests who were thrilled to participate in this cultural, all-inclusive extravaganza, and from the looks of it, this beloved new tradition is here to stay.