It’s celebration season in the Amana Colonies pretty much year-round, but the biggest one of all is Oktoberfest, when vestiges of German heritage and hops flow freely through the villages.
Sept. 29 to Oct. 1
Between 30,000 and 40,000 people typically tap into Oktoberfest, said David Rettig, executive director of the Amana Colonies Convention & Visitors Bureau. This year’s activities begin when the Burgermeister taps the first keg at 2 p.m. Friday in the Festhalle Barn, 4707 220th Trail, Amana. With his toast of “Ein Prosit,” the beer’s free until that keg runs dry. The celebration continues through Sunday. Highlights include the parade in Amana at 10 a.m. Saturday; games and contests, from the Timber Trek 4.3 mile run/walk at 2 p.m. Saturday to a keg toss, log sawing and brat eating contest; arts and crafts demonstrations; kids’ pony rides, games and crafts; horse-drawn carriage rides; “Footloose” onstage at the Old Creamery Theatre in Amana; and live music in the Festhalle Barn, as well as on restaurant lawns.
Friday to Sunday,
Nov. 24 to Dec. 17
Christmas Past is present Friday through Sunday, Nov. 25 to Dec. 18, as the Festhalle Barn becomes a winter wonderland with more than 40 festive trees, Santa visits, St. Nick’s Cafe and the centerpiece, a 17-foot German-style Christmas pyramid. Free; donations accepted.
PRELUDE TO CHRISTMAS
Dec. 1 to 3
This event heralds the holidays in the main village, with candlelit streets, the Tannenbaum Forest in the Festhalle Barn, shopping and dining throughout the colonies and a glimpse of Christmases past inside the Heritage Museum in Amana. The Old Creamery Theatre also is offering a glimpse of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come, with “A Christmas Carol” onstage from Nov. 16 to Dec. 17; $10 to $31. For young audiences, the Old Creamery is staging “Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook” on Saturdays from Nov. 25 to Dec. 16, with a 7 p.m. performance Dec. 14; $10. Oldcreamery.com.
VILLAGES CHRISTMAS HAUS TOUR
Dec. 2 and 3
Tour private homes decorated for the holidays. Times: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost: $10. Information: (319) 622-3678 or Amanaartsguild.com
Winter is no reason to hibernate. Wrap up and head out for the Amana Freezer 5K run/walk, winter wreath toss, best beard competition, log sawing, ham-put (think shot-put), eagle watch, ice skating, breakfast at a communal kitchen, open-fire chili, wine walk, kids’ scavenger hunt, and a Snow Ball dance. Duck inside for shopping and dining.