Two years after the royal wedding of King Ludwig I of Bavaria in 1810, the first Oktoberfest took place in Munich, Bavaria. Now, nearly two centuries later, Old World in Huntington Beach continues the famous tradition with their 27th annual Oktoberfest celebration.
‘It’s always the middle of September to the end of October,\”‘explained Bern Bischof, now owner and manager of Old World. ‘It’s about seven weeks long and this year we started a little bit early, around Sept. 12, and then it’s going on all the way to Oct. 30.’
As far as the history of Oktoberfest is concerned, the city of Munich wanted to host an anniversary party for their king’s second marriage.
‘[There were] all the breweries coming in with their newly-brewed beer and things. It [the Oktoberfest] started with a horse race,’ said Dolores Bischof who, along with her husband, was the original owner and developer of Old World. ‘We don’t have a horse race here, we have a Dachshund race. And the whole town seemed to relate to the king and his festival for his anniversary. And that’s how the whole Oktoberfest started.’
Munich has had an Oktoberfest every year until after World War II, except during the reign of ‘Mad’ King Ludwig II who had built the castle in Munich but did not like parties.
‘He was the grandson and he was more of a loner,’ Dolores Bischof said. ‘He liked to stay in his castle and not take part in the festivities. They only had an Oktoberfest when the king attended, in those years when they still had kings. And then during the wars they didn’t have any.’
Old World has been home to Oktoberfest since its opening in 1978. Joseph Bischof, a German developer, came to the United States in 1952, bringing with him hopes to keep the tradition of his homeland alive.
‘We had our grand opening in 1978, when we also started Oktoberfest, and it’s been going [on] ever since,’ Dolores Bischof said. ‘We like this festival because it brings home tradition from Germany where my husband comes from. And it makes a statement. Everybody relates to Oktoberfest. We start in September as did the Munich one which started in 1812. So it’s a long festival which has been here for many years.’
‘[Old World] is family-built and family owned ever since 1978,’ explained Bern Bischof, the son of Joseph and Dolores. ‘My dad was actually the developer and architect of Old World.’
Old World has become a sort of mecca for the Bavarian traditionalists here in the United States, with its miniature city with 50 shops and 50 homes built in the traditional Bavarian style. This home away from home, located in Huntington Beach, has proven to be an ideal area for this festival.
‘I compare it to all the other Oktoberfests, because there are others in the area,’ Bern Bischof said. ‘I always say the Old World Oktoberfest here in Huntington Beach is the best. First of all, because we’re in Huntington Beach, Surf City, we’re in a great area and we’ve got many beautiful people