The Socorro County Historical Society will host its 27th annual Oktoberfest at the Hammel Museum this Saturday, Oct. 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oktoberfest brings good food, drink and entertainment for all Socorroans to enjoy.
Socorro’s Oktoberfest celebrates the legacy of the Hammel Brewery with traditional foods and drink, live music, baked goods, arts and crafts, model trains and tours of the brewery.
Admission is free, with lunch for a $10 per person donation, $7 for children under 16. This year's lunch menu consists of a choice of brats, grilled hamburgers/cheeseburgers, or green chili burgers served with chips, beans, sauerkraut, drinks, and condiments. An on-site bake sale will also tempt hungry attendees.
Bodega brewmeisters will man the beer counter with Santa Fe Oktoberfest Brew.
Traditional beerfest music will be provided by the Eileen Comstock's Oompah Band at 11 a.m.
Other acts include Roon at noon, Et Alia Belly Dancers at 1 p.m., the band Tuesdays@2 at 2 p.m.
Vendor tables will offer locally made arts and crafts, flowers and plants, baked goods, and other items.
Model railroads by the Socorro Train gang will be on display on the museum’s second floor.
The origin of Oktoberfest dates back to October, 1810, in Munich, Germany, with the celebration of King Ludwig II’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The event was repeated every year to celebrate the autumn harvest with good food and the year's first brew, and by 1819 it was decided to make the Oktoberfest an official event.
Socorro's Oktoberfest began in the 1880s by German brewmeister Jakob Hammel, founder of Socorro's famed Illinois Brewery, for employees and their friends.
According to a history written for the Socorro Historical Society by Spencer Wilson and John DeWitt McKee, the family built a “wintergarten” behind their famous brewery as a place to have fun, relax, and enjoy the trees.
They held an annual Oktoberfest for their employees, family, friends and neighbors to be a community picnic.
Hammel had immigrated from Munich, Bavaria, to the United States in the mid-1800s and founded the Illinois Brewing Company in Lebanon, Illinois, near St. Louis. In 1882, Jacob’s son William relocated to Socorro for health reasons. The brewery was built in 1886.
Hammel Brewery’s lager beers became popular statewide because they were shipped by trains and wagons and packed in ice from Hammel’s ice plant, New Mexico’s first. Along with brewer Francis Eppele and Jakob Hammell’s son William, the brewery gained the reputation as “the beer that made Socorro famous.”
When Prohibition became the law of the land in 1919 Clarence Hammel started turning out cases of Grapette, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. He also operated the adjacent ice plant.
The Hammel Brewery building is now the Socorro Historical Society's museum, home to the Socorro Train Gang and, of course, Oktoberfest.
All activities are held at the historic Hammel Museum, located at 600 Sixth Street, starting at 11 a.m.