German music plays its way into your ears, sausage and strudel tease your appetite, and the fun, excitement, and friendliness capture your heart. This four day event is more than just a festival, it's an experience!
Every third full weekend in September, the small community of Odessa attracts thousands of visitors and adventurers to its famous Deutschesfest. Sporting an authentic local German Band - The Oom Pas & Mas, German Food, Crafts, and many exciting events, Odessa has made a name for itself by taking pride in its German Heritage. All the preparation for Deutschesfest is done by volunteers throughout the town.
When people from Odessa travel outside the area and someone asks where they are from, 9 out of 10 times the response will be that "Deutschesfest place". The Fest is known throughout the Pacific Northwest. Itís the biggest show in the Big Bend region, surpassing all other celebrations and festivals in the number of visitors it attracts-compared to the size of the town. This is itís 46th year of bringing people to town to enjoy a fun-filled weekend.
Deutschesfest, a celebration of its ethnic heritage, is similar to an Octoberfest but done the third full weekend of September.
It is put on by the descendants of the German Russians who settled in Odessa area at the beginning of the 20th Century. These industrious immigrants transformed the Then desolate Odessa area into one at the worlds richest grain-growing areas But hard work wasnít all they knew. They had an appreciation for worldly delights--good food and drink, music and dancing. This has been handed down through the generations to give Odessa a very special ambiance, which abounds at Deutschesfest. In German its called gemutlichkelt-- the spirit of comradeship and good times.
Sponsored by the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, Deutschesfest is a celebration of rich and colorful traditions, which have never been lost. About 80 percent of Odessaís inhabitants are of German Russian descent. They have maintained much of the culture of their forebears, which includes not only an appreciation of food but also a love for music and entertainment.
Deutschesfest annually draws up to 20,000 visitors. Motor Homes begin streaming into town a week ahead of the event to find choice parking spots near the Biergarten, the center of entertainment during the three-day festival, held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with pre-fest activities on Thursday evening. The upcoming dates are September 16, 17 and 18, 2016.
About 700 RVís are parked all over town, many of them on grassy Finney Field, the Odessa schoolís playfield. Senior citizens arrive by the busloads from Spokane, Tri-Cities, and Wenatchee. Many visitors pitch tents in tree-shaded Reiman Park, while a few who have reserved a year in advance are lucky enough to find motel accommodations at the Odessa Motel or park their RV at Odessa Golf Course.
Deutschesfest, providing three days of fun, is an event not duplicated elsewhere in the Inland Northwest. In addition to German food and music, the festival features a parade, arts and Crafts exhibits, a carnival, sports events, including a major 5K and 10K fun run, and the big attraction--the Biergarten and entertainment.
The Fest is Odessaís happy time. Not only does the Biergarten hop, but the streets are alive with revelers, and the Oom Pas and Mas German band, a feature since the first Fest in 1971, with some of the original members still performing, fills the air with music. Those who like to listen and dance to other than polkas and waltzes have the choice of several bands, which alternately take the stage at the Biergarten to provide old time rock and roll of the 1950ís and 60ís, country rock and big-band era music. The Sunday evening finale is a special concert. Appearing at intervals each day, the Oom Pas and Mas bring back a German spirit to the Biergarten with the polkas and beer-drinking toasts.
Food-- traditional German cuisine-- is the very heart and soul of Deutschesfest. A wide Variety of delicacies are offered at the food circus, known as the Festplatz, in the center of downtown Odessa. Everything from krautranza to strudel can be savored at the colorful chalets, the food booths sponsored by civic, fraternal, church and School groups.
Deutschesfest began in small way in 1971. No one was certain how many visitors would be on hand for the first celebration on Friday, September 17. By Saturday however, the food booths were sold out. The Biergarten was out of beer. Even Odessaís tavernís ran out of beer.
The Fest organizerís had to run to the neighboring towns of Ritzville, Wilbur and Moses Lake to gather up all the beer they could buy, to serve the Saturday crowd. The only thing they didnít move was factory made pickles. No one was interested in the food unless it was made in Odessa. And every year since the pickles are homemade by a committee, following a recipe handed down for decades from the first immigrants who settled Odessa. In later years, the art of making sauerkraut was added. Today, neither product is left by Monday morning.
Rocky Coulee Brewing Company and Voise Sausage by Summers, both located in Odessa,
serve their beer and sausage in the Biergarten during Fest. Visit the Biergarten page for the details!
For information on lodging, being a parade entrant, or a vendor, please visit the FAQ page.