Polka Party

Outdoor festivals at the Colorado Belle are in full force and one of their most popular themed parties is all about celebrating the fall, cooler temperatures and welcoming October into the fold. In fact, the 9th annual Das Beer Fest has become so popular, it takes up two consecutive weekends Friday-Sunday, October 6-8 and Friday-Sunday, October 13-15. (Fri-Sat-2 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sun-noon-7 p.m. both weekends).
October brings to mind all things German with food, music and, of course, beer.
The party takes place on the Riverwalk between the Colorado Belle and the Edgewater with the focal point being the stage on the Riverwalk at the Loading Dock Bar & Grille.
The Loading Dock patio is a hot spot to claim a table to listen to the music and watch the crowds, however, you must check in with the podium inside the restaurant to get a table on the patio. The food and drinks served here are not the same as the items available at the booths on the Riverwalk (Loading Dock menu only).
There will be food and beverage booths set up along the Riverwalk selling all manner of German items, beer, soft drinks and wine, and more.
The Loading Dock stage will feature rotating bands both weekends. Taking the stage Friday, October 6 is the Kalifornia Krauts and Fraulein Ginger Bruner & The Ginger Snaps. The following weekend music will be performed by the Warsaw Poland Brothers and Helmut Fricker & Der Rhinelanders. There is no charge to listen to the music. Food and beverages are sold separately.
The food…
The mostly German influenced food items are sold ala carte and include:
•Foot long frankfurters; rotisserie half-chicken; cheese brats; beer brats; mashed potatoes with bacon; purple cabbage sauerkraut; plain soft pretzels; cheese pretzels; and chocolate dipped pretzels. The price range is from $3 to $8.
There are also beers, from Germany including Heineken, St. Pauli Girl Lager, and a few offerings from the Belle’s Pints Microbrewery & Sports Bar as well, such as an Oktoberfest brew, Wild Card (Kolsch ale), and a Jackass Stout. Additional beverages include Budweiser and Bud Light, wine, “autumn punch,” call drinks, premium drinks, Gatorade, soft drinks and water. Prices range from $4 to $9.

A little more about the Kalifornia Krauts
“The Kalifornia Krauts, with two Ks, we are primarily from Southern California—Yucca Valley and Riverside,” said Chris Poland, band founder. “The way I say it, is we play German-American polka music and our unique ability that other polka bands don’t do—or most don’t—is we have the songs memorized. We don’t sit at music stands— we have dance steps, we do more of a show than the rest.
“Then since we are Californian, we do have a couple of Hispanics in the band. We incorporate German/American tunes that have coinciding Mexican equivalents,” he added. “We borrow from their songs. For example, “The Chicken Dance” in Mexico they have words for it in Spanish—it’s about birds being born, and when they’re born they dance. It’s similar words, not an exact translation, but we’re able to sing a verse in German, a verse in English and a verse in Spanish. We don’t do that with all the songs, but with about half the songs. So as far as the genre of music goes, we are rapidly accumulating fans in Southern California, because we do more than just the German thing and it appeals to everyone.”
It goes without saying that any German-flavored event will undoubtedly include beer-drinking songs.
“We incorporate a lot of beer drinking songs,” he said. “Every 15 minutes we do “Ein Prosit,” which is a German beer garden drinking song, that kind of encourages them to drink every three songs, so it’s an audience participation song, too.
“That’s in addition to “The Chicken Dance,” and then we play “It’s a Small World,” from Disney, so we parade about with the kids. Then we do things like “Roll Out the Barrel,” which is another audience participation song—they roll out the barrels and we play the song—there’s a lot of that going on.”
After about six years in this business and playing extensively, Poland’s learned what audiences expect to hear and what they have to play no matter where it is.
“From my experience, the No. 1 polka song is “The Chicken Dance,” hands down, period. “Beer Barrel Polka” is No. 2, people request it all the time, it’s their second favorite. The third favorite is the “Pennsylvania Polka.”
Some of these favorite traditional songs, come with a history that doesn’t always fit into the modern way of doing things.
“A lot of these songs were written at the turn of the century, so they didn’t have politically correct in mind,” he laughs. “Some of them are very ‘tongue-in-cheek’ like the ‘Too Fat Polka,’ or ‘I’ve Got a Wife at Home.’ They’re not really the most flattering towards women and I’m aware of that.
“They’re a little irreverent, but they’re from a different period of time—just in the last 15 years symbols and their meanings have changed. It’s the same way with music,” he said. “Our music is about unity. We sing in Spanish, we have Hispanic people, and what we’re trying to do push through any correlation to negative German vibes if you know what I’m saying. We’re more about bringing cultures together than anything. That’s where we’re coming from.
“This is a tongue-in-cheek group, even though we take what we’re doing very seriously. We are an A band at this point. We haven’t always been an A band, but we are delivering and we’re just knocking them out. We sound huge like an orchestra. It’s quite amazing to me and I’m a stickler for this. We finally have a good group and we’re really up to par this year. My point is, even though we take the music seriously, I don’t take the message that seriously. Everyone is just having some fun.”


DAS BEER FEST

Riverwalk Between the Colorado Belle and Edgewater

Fri-Sat, October 6-7 (2 p.m.-10 p.m.)

Sun, October 8 (noon-7 p.m.)

See Showtimes for tickets