JACKSONVILLE — Operators of a forthcoming German restaurant will hold an Oktoberfest Saturday at the historic Jacksonville School, complete with German beer, a bratwurst eating contest, oompah band and activities for the kids.
Frau Kemmling Schoolhaus Brewhaus will hold the event in the school gymnasium from noon to 10 p.m. Owners say the full restaurant will probably open in the Music Building early next summer, but they may offer a smaller version in the basement of the former Cascade Christian High School later this year.
"We do have a kitchen set up down there and ready to go," said Hilary Kemmling. "If we can have seating down there as well, we'd have a limited menu with a soft opening."
Kemmling has not formally approached city officials for approval of a basement eatery. "We're waiting until after Oktoberfest," she said.
Schoolhaus Brewhaus is one part of the development on Bigham Knoll that has been undertaken by Kemmling's parents, Mel and Brooke Ashland.
Staff of the Ashland's two investment firms have moved into the renovated 1908 main building. Work will finish in December on another building to allow expansion of the kindergarten. Remodel of the Music Building for the restaurant that will seat 65 inside and 80 outside may start in the next few weeks.
"It takes a long time to get through the planning and get the construction going," said Brooke Ashland. "It means a lot of attention to detail."
After the restaurant is completed, work will begin on an inn and spa planned for the former school site.
"It was a lot of things that came together that pointed us to a German restaurant," said Kemmling. "When I came back home and started asking around, a lot of people mentioned there was a need in the valley for a German restaurant."
Kemmling attended a German/Swiss high school in Hong Kong as an exchange student. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, she spent two months at a restaurant in Bavaria as a cooking intern.
"In Germany, Oktoberfest is very kid-friendly," said Kemmling. "It's really a carnival now. That's the spirit of it."
Oktoberfest originated in Munich in 1810 to celebrate a royal wedding. But its origins are also traced to harvest fairs and the end of a six-month ban on beer brewing during warm weather in an age before refrigeration.
An enchanted forest will occupy one-quarter of the gym. A maze will lead to a castle. Grimm's fairy tales will be read to children. There will also be face painting and puppet making.
Merchants will have displays, South Stage Sellers will offer wine tasting and there will be cooking demonstrations.
A bratwurst eating contest will take place at 5:30 p.m. to benefit the town's fire department. A $10 entry fee will be charged. Length of the contest hasn't been set yet.
"My husband is entering. He's pushing for two minutes," said Kemmling. "But I'm thinking five minutes is probably a better test."
The Sauerkrauts 19-piece oompah band will perform, dressed in traditional lederhosen and dirndl dresses.
Bratwurst, chicken, German potato salad, coleslaw and pretzels will be available, along with desserts and coffee. There also will be a traditional Oktoberfest beer from Germany and other beers and wine.
Admission of $10 for adults includes an alcoholic beverage. Adults will receive a free stein while supplies last. Kids' admission is $5 and includes a soda. There is a $2 discount for those who show up in German costume.
The historic school is located at 525 East E St. For information, call 899-1000 or visit www.fraukemmling.com.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.