San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

PHOTO STORY: Costa Rica's first officially franchised Oktoberfest draws thousands

ESCAZÚ, San José – Whether they came for the beer, the sausage, or the cultural experience, hordes of people crowded the Oktoberfest tents in Avenida Escazú last weekend, southwest of the capital. The crowds were diverse: college kids sipping steins, couples sharing pretzels, middle-aged folks clapping along to accordion music, and clusters of children playing games and eating candy.

The Germanic harvest celebration was an enormous victory for Pablo Formal, Oktoberfest engineer and co-proprietor of NuShark Media, a marketing and entertainment company. An ebullient and heavily bearded man, Formal welcomed guests as they arrived last Sunday, linking wristbands and conversing with friends.

“You should have been here yesterday,” Formal told The Tico Times, looking winded by his own success. And then, getting down to business: “Did you get a beer yet?”

In traditional bierhall style, patrons sat at long communal tables and drank from a variety of glasses. Meanwhile, breweries set up their own bars, displays and seating areas to best showcase their brews. Musicians played on a full concert stage, and hopefuls competed for prizes.

From the looks of things, a new tradition has been born.


A musician plays his accordion above the din of the afternoon crowd.

Robert Isenberg


Oktoberfest founder Pablo Formal with his girlfriend in front of festival entrance.

Robert Isenberg


Patrons dressed in traditional Bavarian outfits. One of Formal’s goals was to encourage festive dress.

Robert Isenberg


Sausages glisten, courtesy Maya’s Lounge Restaurant in Ciudad Colón.

Robert Isenberg


Los Yoses clothier Concrete sells novelties at a vendor’s table.

Robert Isenberg


“Heineken Girls” pose in front of a foosball table. Smiling women in dirndls have become a staple of Oktoberfest celebrations.

Robert Isenberg


Long communal tables accommodate the diverse Oktoberfest crowds.

Robert Isenberg


San José’s Stiefel Pub displays some favorite craft beers.

Robert Isenberg


An Imperial bartender operates a tap.

Robert Isenberg

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