Adam Failer came for the beer.
And he found it. Beneath the tent, chatting with door men dressed in traditional German garbs, and weaving in and out of meticulously swift bar maids, Failer got his brew and a bit more.
The Oak Park senior and Dog Central employee was dying to vacate from his studies, guzzle some brews and enjoy a night of live music and escape.
His thirst to party led the 22-year-old marketing logistics major to Mount Pleasant Brewing Company’s third annual Oktoberfest celebration outside Mountain Town Station.
“It’s about beer-thirty right now,” Failer said, as he gazed into the deep, dark-golden complexion of his 40-ounce glass mug. “I’m excited to start drinking. It’s good to get away from the norm.”
Beneath a large tent erected behind the restaurant, the event attracted up to 200 drinkers per night during the four-day event from Sept. 24-28.
Failer and his friends described the atmosphere as a welcomed departure from the rigors of college.
“It’s a good, big social event,” Failer said. “This is my first time drinking in weeks. I’ve been really busy with school.”
The manager at Mountain Town and organizer of the Oktoberfest event, Eric Bliss, hoped the celebration of the German tradition and homemade ales would remain a fixture in Mount Pleasant as a testament to the eclecticism of residential taste.
“The goal is to create amazement,” he said. “I want people to come in here as a hidden gem and say ‘Wow. Thank you.’ We use this to get the community involved. The excitement for providing a new atmosphere has been very intriguing.”
While Bliss admitted that beer is the focus of Oktoberfest, he was certain that attendees would also enjoy the night’s live music, food and pageantry.
“Obviously, we focus on the beer spectrum,” Bliss said. “But there’s a lot to go with it. Good times, good beer and great people.”
He described the typical crowd consisting of college students, business professionals and other local residents.
“There’s a wide variety of people here,” Bliss said. “We cater to that. We chose to go without traditional German music as the main focus. We try to get a lot of variety of music.”
CMU alums return for festivities
Tuesday Reinke, a 2013 CMU graduate, enjoyed Oktoberfest over the years for a more relaxed atmosphere, free of the chaos of under-aged boozers.
“It’s not a flashy college party,” she said of Oktoberfest. “It’s a more classy crowd with less college kids getting belligerent. My mom would love it.”
CMU graduate Jeremiah Eerdmans came to Oktoberfest in part because of the large portions of beer being served, as well as getting away from a town he often felt was too saturated by college students.
After three 40-ounce mugs of an India Pale Ale, Eerdmans was certain a good time would be had.
“I like that there aren’t a lot of college kids here,” he said. “I was drawn here by the 40-ounce mugs. I’m also supporting Mount Pleasant and Michigan businesses. It’s good beer and good times.”
Stacy Fox, a 41-year-old resident and 1997 CMU graduate, also enjoyed the night for different age groups than typically populate the Mount Pleasant nightlife.
“This is great,” he said of Oktoberfest. “You can get a lot more community involvement. I saw four old ladies dancing outside and they were having a blast. Celebrate a bountiful harvest. The bands are great.”
Sweet, sweet music
Taking the stage at Oktoberfest, retro-rock band Mega 80′s came from Detroit to perform in Mount Pleasant for the first time.
Lead singer Carey Denha was grateful to try out his library of authentic 1980s pop hits for a new crowd.
“Anytime we get to play somewhere new, that’s the best thing,” he said. “It’s really good to play for a fresh crowd, to gauge their reactions. It helps us tweak our show.”
Performing at venues across the Midwest, Denha attributes the realism of his band’s sound when covering past hits to the authenticity of Mega 80′s’ equipment.
“We buy all vintage keyboards and drum machines,” he said. “We do research and find out what specific gear they used and we buy it. That’s why we sound just like the originals.”
Opening for Mega 80′s, the Palooka Brothers of Mount Pleasant have performed at Oktoberfest each year since its inception. Mandolin and fiddle player Bruce Gartner said his group has been asked back each year by audience demand.
“We kind of have a following from year to year,” he said. “This is just for fun, and an excuse to get out and play.”
But what brings Gartner back each year, he said, is the seasonal beauty of his hometown in early fall.
“What a beautiful night,” he said. “It’s just a great time of year.”