Bill Blythe, a native German and frontman of The Continentals, recalled a time where there were 15 to 20 clubs dedicated to European music in the Bay Area.
Now there are just a handful, he said, and those may die out, too, as performers age. Younger generations just aren’t picking up the craft.
But Oktoberfest events, like the one held Saturday in Napa, give keyboardist Blythe a chance to don traditional garb and share the music of his homeland.
“It’s fun, and we do it because we love it, not because of money,” he said. “It’s like a lifeline; it keeps you young.”
Hundreds gathered in the garden outside of the Culinary Institute of America at Copia to enjoy the Oktoberfest event. Guests chowed on bratwurst sandwiches and fire oven pizza, and crunched on sauerkraut. Bartenders, who served brews from 12 nearby crafters, were always busy.
Guests mingled around the garden, families picnicked on the lawn and kids ran through the sprinklers.
Several attendees dressed up in traditional German wear. And some, including Bethany Codding, had personal ties to Germany.
Codding, a Santa Rosa resident, had just moved back to the Golden State from Germany. She stumbled across the event after her friend suggested they search for “fall things” to do. The women dressed in Codding’s two German dirndls, traditional dresses, and headed to Napa.
So how did Napa’s event compare to the real deal?
Oktoberfest in Germany is “a little more rowdy, and a little more beer, and Ferris wheels, which I think is a poor combination,” Codding said. “This is a nice mellow rendition.”