The Salem Insider

Insiders guide to food, entertainment & living in Salem Massachusetts for tourists and residents.

Octoberfest and pub crawling

By on 10 Comments
Categories: drinks, events, halloween, music, nightlife

Yesterday we talked about the Harvestfest, which is going on this weekend. But there are a few other great events for those who want to sample some of Salem’s adult beverages.

Drunken Happenings

Well stocked bar of Spirit's 300 Derby

Drink em up

Using some whimsical adaptations from the official Haunted happenings an avid group of Pub Crawlers brings you Salem’s 4th Annual Drunken Happenings, this Saturday October 18th starting at 3pm.  The crawl involves visiting 7 different bars and drinking the recommended specialty drinks.  Six hours later everyone meets up at O’Neills to swap stories and hi-five your new BFF.

Having organized a few Salem Pub Crawls myself I commend the Drunken Happenings crew for getting the word out about being safe.  They suggest you crawl with a group, set aside time for dinner and remind you NOT TO DRIVE.  They even went the extra mile and included info on the cab company and pedicabs for those who might be in need.

While there was some talk of this event being canceled due to an increased police presence this year, it is still on.  I look forward to sharing a drink with many of you who will be crawling and remember – Be Safe Out There!


Do you like oom-pah Bands?  What about cute chicks wearing a drindl?  Are you looking for an excuse to dust off the lederhosen in your closet?  Then look no further, Octoberfest is coming to Salem.



I can’t tell you that all the girls that show up will be this pretty nor can I tell you the mugs will be this large but I can tell you they both should.

Here is the low down.  This great idea was brought to life by Dianne from Pamplemousse (remember Harvestfest) and it looks to be a lot of fun.  A large tent will be set up in the Front Street parking lot on Friday October 24th serving as your Octoberfest headquarters till Sunday the 26th.  Local brewery Ipswich Ale will be providing the suds for your consumption.

Now for the bad news.

You have to buy a $20 ticket to enter the tent, similar to the real Oktoberfest (or Wies’n as it’s called in the motherland) where you need to buy a voucher to get a seat in order to be served, however that $20 ticket only gives you a commemorative Ipswich Ale mug and one beer.  If the festbier (German for beers sold during Oktoberfest) are 1 liter and the server girls are seriously cute then maybe just maybe $20 is worth it.  Keep in mind though if you want  any food (New England type food not Germany type food) or an additional beer you are paying for it out of your own pocket.

Proceeds from the event will go to Destination Salem a city department that markets Salem as a tourist destination.  Organizers are hoping to walk away with $30,000 profit.  While I hope this event is a huge success and they hit their mark something tells me that paying for additional beers of unknown size and price on top of a $20 cover charge might discourage most potential revelers. We will do a follow up to this and let you know how it went.

10 Responses

  1. The Oktoberfest cover charge gives people access to all the entertainment, your first beer and a felt Alpine hat. (we have kazoos too) The beers are very generous 16 oz pours. Additional beer is available for $5 each. And we promise hot babes in short dirndles too. Charmed and Dangerous is unlike anything to hit Salem in some time. They are worth every penny as well as the traditional German bands we have performing. When all is said and done, it’s not unlike going to a club, paying a cover and buying your food and drink. But it’s a hell of a lot more fun! I hope you all come out and enjoy the event. We are always open to suggestions as this is our first year!!

  2. Glen Hughes says:

    $5 for a pint is quite reasonable and probably average for what you would pay in the various bars around town. Charmed and Dangerous should be fun, each year we seem to get a burlesque troupe in town for some event. The last good show was when Mr. Reusch and J. Cannibal brought up Black Cat Burlesque (who happen to be up here next week as well).

    One question, will patrons be able to come and go after they have paid their cover? Will it be a wrist band situation where someone could come in and see a band or performance then walk around town and come back later that day or even the next day with out paying a second cover charge?

  3. Diane says:

    I’d like to get in touch with the organizer/s of the Drunken Happenings pub crawl that happened on Saturday night – the folks with the bright green shirts. The group was MUCH larger than last year, less organized, and a less well behaved. After a some of them tried to bring in food from another restaurant and their own jello shots, we had to cut their visit to our bar short. Such a shame. Many of the folks seemed reasonable and just out to have a great time, but there were quite a few knuckle-heads, one of whom threw a salt-shaker at our door man after he was asked to leave. Bummer.

  4. Nightowl says:

    Gosh…too bad people don’t find out the facts about the Oktoberfest and Destination Salem. Destination Salem is NOT a city department. Destination Salem last I checked was a public/private organization of members who are from the travel and tourism, retail and restaurant communities.

    Your profit margin sounds way off. From my conversations with the organizers, after they pay for the tent, entertainment, beer, tables, chairs, sound systems, employees, and so on the proceeds will be donated to Destination Salem and helping offset the costs the city has to have Haunted Happenings be a reality. Do you know for instance toilets need to be paid for, extra police details and the money comes out of business owners?

    After weeks of advertising and the expenses incurred I only hope they take a salary of their own but talk to them and most of it is going to DS! When was the last time any other business in this town gave so much away. I wonder if anyone complains that the stupid Halloween newspaper style rag makes money. Do they give anything to the promotions of the city or to pay for toilets? AND…last I went to a coffee house to see some band it cost me $15-20 and I had to pay for coffee and treats too on top of that…not even a beer.

    I have friends in Munich and Oktoberfest there has become quite expensive…and if you think everything is free then I have a bridge for sale for you.

    I feel sad that people have to make so much up about this event when the folks who planned it are doing so with care and love of a wonderful city. Last I checked too…not all women in Salem were bad looking or the men for that matter. So dig out the lederhosen and dirndls, bring your steins and roll out the barrels!

  5. Glen Hughes says:


    Thanks for your comments. You are partially correct however, let me educate you.

    Destination Salem was under our former Mayor (Stan Usocvicz) the Salem Office of Tourism & Cultural Affairs aka the tourism and marketing wing of the city of Salem. After budget cuts the office was incorporated and while technically a 501(c) it is funded in part by the city. As readers know we don’t discuss politics on this blog however if it looks like a city department, acts like a city department and is funded (in part) by the city the conclusion is obvious. Insiders know that there has been much debate regarding this issue and I’m sure that debate will continue. What is undisputed is that Destination Salem and Kate Fox do a great job and we are happy they are here to serve the businesses and public alike.

    As for the profit margin issue of Octoberfest. Those numbers I cited came directly from the event organizer herself. Diane Manahan (who commented above) when interviewed by the Salem News for the September 23rd edition said “Proceeds from the event — which could potentially reach $30,000”, her numbers not mine.

    As for you seeing bands at coffee houses and paying $15 – $20 it is you who should be first in line to buy a bridge. You could go to Font Street Coffee House and see bands for FREE or see bands for FREE over at Gulu-Gulu. In fact most live music held in Salem is available for under $15.

    Also, you might (or might not) have friends in Munich but I was over there (in 2003) and how it works is you contact a tent and get a voucher for a table (you are only served when seated at a table) once you have a table you can either pay per beer, when I was there it was about $5 for a liter not sure what it is now with inflation and a crappy exchange rate, OR you can buy a ticket for unlimited beers throughout the festival. I don’t remember what the cost was for the all-you-can-drink pass (it was pricey) because I was not spending the entire week in Munich.
    Furthermore, perhaps you need to reread what I wrote as there is nothing stating that things at Oktoberfest are free.

    I feel sad that some commenter’s feel the need to be confrontational without having understood what was written. Our readers will check out this event (an others we write about) and if it’s right for them the will spend their money and have a good time. Hopefully this will be successful and become a regular feature of our Halloween season.

    I personally am happy to support innovative ideas. If they work – great. If not lets learn from them and take those lessons forward to the next thing we try.

  6. DJ Cee Block says:

    I would like to commend the Drunken Happenings crew, I have to say as the resident Saturday night DJ at O’neill’s, It was one of the best vibes, crowds, and overall nights I’ve seen in there in a while…. I had a very diverse crowd that mingled well… the 21 year olds on the dance floor with the 45-and 50 year olds dancing their buttocks off….I would like to have that crowd there EVERY Saturday… We had no problems with anyone being belligerent, aggressive or unruly.
    A great time was had by all and the feedback that I got as the DJ at the end of the night was 100% positive.

  7. Yes, patrons will receive a wristband and can come and go throughout the day at Oktoberfest. Children accompanied by an adult are allowed on Saturday and Sunday until 6 pm.

  8. Melanie says:

    I wanted to thank all the bars who participated in the 4th Annual Drunken Happenings! I felt like it was a great success and a well diversed crowd. I organize this every year and try to show that a group of young professionals can go out and have a fun respectable time.

    If we did have a few bad apples in the bunch I am very sorry. And I will take it up with them and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I do take this very personal since it’s my name on the line and those people will not be invited to attend next year.

    I am always open for suggestions to make the pubcrawl more successful and more accomodating with the bars we are visiting. You can always email me at

    Thank you,

  9. Diane says:

    Now that I’ve finally caught up on my sleep I just wanted to say how much fun I had at the Oktoberfest.
    Charmed and Dangerous was especially bawdy and fun – it seemed like everyone had a good time. I suspect that next year will be even better if we give it a go.


  1. […] Octoberfest and Pub Crawling – There were some great new events this October for the height of our Halloween season.  One new event was the Oktoberfest tent and a perennial favorite was the Drunken Happenings Pub Crawl.  We attended both and spread the word.  I’m glad October only comes around once a year – but those events were a blast. […]

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