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Glenwood Caverns presents two more Saturdays of Octoberfest

Glenwod Caverns Adventure Park employees Kalli Pezel and Jerry Begly arrange decorations for the annual Octoberfest.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

John Pataky has been playing Bavarian mountain music for 40 years in Colorado.

His bandmate Gerhard Rill has been playing since he was a kid in Bavaria.

So when their band, Alpine Echo, hits Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park the next two Saturdays for Octoberfest, expect some genuine German jollification. The band plays from from noon to 4 p.m., and Octoberfest runs another two hours until 6 p.m.

“Since we’ve been doing this group around the valley people enjoy the German-style music. … We’re pretty authentic when it comes to this kind of music because we grew up with it since we were 10 years old,” Pataky said.

While Pataky was born in Hungary, he said he was very young when he moved to Denver and grew up in Bavarian culture there, including the Edelweiss Club, founded in 1958 to preserve the customs and traditions of Germany. He also is owner of Rosi’s Little Bavarian restaurant in Glenwood.

The group members are spread across the Western Slope. Pataky, who plays accordion and drums, is from Glenwood Springs; Rill, who plays strings, keyboards, accordion, horns, drums and bells, is from Parachute; Joe Pologar, who plays horns, is from Leadville; and guitarist Charles Smith and bassist and drummer John Levin are professional rock musicians from Grand Junction. All of the bandmates sing.

As tempting as spelling Oktoberfest with a “c” is to call Alpine Echo an oompah band.

“We’re a traditional Tyrolean folk band. … We play mountain music from Bavaria. But not oompah, oompah is a little different. … Oompah bands are mostly Slovenian and Slavic,” Pataky said. And oompah bands rely on the tuba.

Pataky estimates the band has played 400 Oktoberfest shows, roughly 20 a year for the 20 years the band has been together. 

But 2020 has a different meaning in terms of the year of the pandemic.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park employees Kalli Pezel and Jerry Begly arrange kegs for the keg bowling game as part of the annual Octoberfest at the top of the mountain.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“Everything’s been canceled pretty much. We normally have festivals every weekend this time of year. Right now we have nothing [else]. Our Oktoberfest season ends in the middle or end of October. I don’t see things picking up. The Caverns is the only place that decided to put on a festival this year,” Pataky said.

Alpine Echo played Glenwood’s Downtown Market on Sept. 29, which Pataky said was the band’s first live show of the season. 

Pataky said he played with Vail’s Helmut Fricker at a festival in Beaver Creek a few weeks ago. 

A dozen or more musicians on the Western Slope get together and play in pubs, so there is cross-pollination of Bavarian musical ideas, Pataky said.

A few activities the band likes to host had to be sidelined this year at the Caverns due to COVID, but Pataky said there will still be COVID-safe crowd participation and the stein-holding contest.

“While it may be slightly different from our previous Octoberfests, our team has come up with a plan that’s a lot of fun and still provides for social distancing,” Nancy Heard, park general manager, said in the release. 

In addition to Alpine Echo, visitors can expect a beer garden, ax throwing, keg bowling, magic acts and juggling from Jammin’ Jim Pomey, pumpkins and fall colors, according to a news release.

German fare at the beer garden includes grilled brats and kielbasa, sauerkraut, roasted nuts, giant pretzels and Bavarian cream puffs.

The Glenwood Springs Rugby Team will pour beer Oct. 10, and the 10th Mountain Roller Dolls will pour on Oct. 17, according to the release.

All of the park’s rides are open through the end of the month, weather permitting, except for the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster.

More information about the park, including hours of operation, winter pricing and a list of which attractions are open, can be found at GlenwoodCaverns.com or by calling 800-530-1635 or 970-945-4228, ext. 0.

cwertheim@postindependent.com


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