Carouse in costume: This weekend offers two opportunities to eat and drink in silly clothes

Practice your chicken dance and your zombie shuffle: This weekend presents two chances to celebrate Asheville food and beer with jerky movements, varied vestments and specials at downtown bars and restaurants.

On Saturday, Oct. 13, Oktoberfest takes over Wall Street for the fourth year in a row. Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite Bavarian-style regalia as they stroll the cobblestones sampling local beers from Highland, Pisgah, Green Man, French Broad and Asheville Brewing.

“[Oktoberfest] was really just in response to seeing our craft beer scene grow and looking for a fun way to celebrate it,” says Meghan Rogers, membership and marketing coordinator at the Asheville Downtown Association, which organizes the festival.

Cucina 24, The Market Place and Jack of the Wood will sell German staple foods from tents along the street, including sauerkraut and bratwurst. Beulah's Bavarian Pretzels and Lusty Monk Mustard will provide abundant snacks.

But at Oktoberfest, food is not just for eating. Teams from the five participating breweries will play with their food in pretzel-tossing, pie-eating and keg-rolling contests (in addition to several others).

The day's events include a costume contest to crown Mr. and Ms. Oktoberfest, and North Carolina's largest chicken dance (or so it's being called). “I'm not sure I can substantiate that fact, though,” Rogers says.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, translate those jerky dancing skills into a zombie shuffle: Ashtoberfest is sponsoring the Zombie Pub Crawl, which encourages participants to pull their best zombie face and take to the streets. In the past, Ashtoberfest has organized large Zombie walks, but this year, they're asking zombies to roam on their own.

Zombies will gather at ZaPow! at 7 p.m. for a preparty that includes free French Broad beer. Makeup artists will transform the living into the undead for donations. Other activities will include palm reading, a raffle and live music performed by Ben Wilson. The event is open to zombies young and old.

At 9 p.m., the zombies will go out on the town. The Southern, Thirsty Monk, The Bier Garden, Asheville Yacht Club and Rankin Vault will seek to attract zombies with festivities such as decorations and food and drink specials. “We hope the family zombies go off and patronize other local spots around downtown as well,” says Sarah Giavedoni, volunteer coordinator for Ashtoberfest.

For zombies who are concerned about staying in character, Giavedoni says eating and drinking will not compromise their authenticity. She says Asheville zombies are lively. “I think maybe our undead aren't quite as dead as they would be if they were just going after people's brains,” she says. “We're hoping that the bars will do spooky, brainy-themed appetizers and drinks.”

Oktoberfest takes place on Saturday, Oct. 13 on Wall Street. Scheduled events begin with a parade at 11:57 a.m. and last until 5 p.m. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $35 on the day of the festival (unless it sells out). The ticket includes beer samples and participation in events. Visit ashevilledowntown.org for tickets and more information.

Ashtoberfest's Zombie Pub Crawl on Sunday, Oct. 14 begins with an all-ages preparty at ZaPow!, 21 Battery Park Ave., at 7 p.m. Zombies will disperse throughout downtown at 9 p.m.

Emily Patrick can be reached at food@mountainx.com.

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