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THIS WEEKEND: Summit Express Takes Oktoberfest to New Heights at Sugar

Harvest season is officially underway in the High Country, and you know what that means … Oktoberfest is almost here!

Everything you know and love about Oktoberfest is back again this year, but this time around you’ll get to enjoy an even better scenic lift ride experience on Sugar’s new six-seater Summit Express. The new lift was installed in time for the summer season at Sugar, but its new heights will give you the best view in town of fall colors this weekend.

“In the past it was a slower ride, but now it’s about a seven-minute ride. We still like to run the lifts a little bit slower at Oktoberfest because it’s more of a scenic ride rather than trying to get to the top to get a ski ride in,” said Sugar Mountain Vice President Kim Jochl. “It’s much higher, so you’re above the trees a little bit more than in the past. You used to be much deeper into the trees when you went up the mountain, and now you’re a lot higher than in the past.”

Oktoberfest’s annual date, the second weekend of October, almost always assures the timely appearance of the sugar maples’ brilliant mantel of color, setting once again, the autumn stage on Sugar Mountain.


“People love the weather, the foliage, the mountains and the unique festivities,” Jochl said. “It’s cool and crisp and then the sun starts warming everything up. It’s just refreshing.”

Oktoberfest returns to the Sugar Mountain ski lodge Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9. Activities begin at ten a.m. through five p.m. each day and parking, shuttle service, and admission are free. A children’s area is set up in the ski school play yard, so remember that everyone in the family is welcome. Artisans, crafts-people, and food vendors open their booths each day of Oktoberfest at ten a.m. Traditional foods of Germany, including Knockwurst, Bratwurst, German style potato salad, and apple strudel are yours to purchase along with barrels and barrels of Spaten beer delivered direct from Bavaria. Hot dogs and burgers, soft drinks and other festive foods are on hand, too.

The fifteen-piece Harbour Towne Fest Band returns with their traditional brass and percussions sounds of Oom Pah, with yodeling, accordians, and Alpenhorns, encouraging the dances and the celebration of the Bavarian heart. Harbour Towne is on stage from noon ‘til four p.m. each day. And, has become a tradition at the festival. The Valle Crucis Middle School Band will lend their own special touch to the playbill.

“It’s fun and upbeat. The oompah music is going and you can smell the kettle corn and the funnel cakes,” said Jochl. “We’ve got the kids center, the lift rides are fun for all ages, the older folks like to dance, ladies like to shop and everybody likes to have a Spaten or Bratwurst.”

Of course, since it’s October in the North Carolina mountains, you should prepare for all types of weather. However, the festival goes on wind, rain, or snow. But if you could use some good mountain wear, the Sugar Mountain Sports and Gift Shop is open with deeply discounted apparel as well as souvenirs and keepsakes.

Special lodging discounts are avaialable when you visit Oktoberfest weekend. There’s still room for vendors, and volunteers are always encouraged to join in the Oktoberfest presentation. Call 828-898-4521 or go online.