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Roast the brats, pass the beer 

Oktoberfest moves downtown in Hot Springs.

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Hot Springs oompahs into fall with its 32nd annual Oktoberfest celebration of traditional German food, music, dance and beer on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6 and 7. The festival returns to downtown after its previous venture to Magic Springs Theme Park.

Oktoberfest’s vendors, including arts and crafts booths, will be located at Hill Wheatley Plaza, and merchants across from Bathhouse Row will host Oktoberfest events as well. Siegi Sausage Factory, Flossie’s Funnel Cakes and Top Chef Concessions and others will serve German food and drink. (Count on an impressive variety of German beer, as well as domestic beer, soda and water.)

The Waterloo German Band, which makes the pilgrimage to Hot Springs every year from Illinois, will entertain with traditional music, costumes and dancing throughout the weekend. Hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

Had your fill of schnitzel? Hear some country music at the Summit Arena at 6 p.m. Oct. 7 when Lonestar and Randy Owen (former lead singer of Alabama) headline the Freedom Fest Hunting and Fishing Expo Oct. 6-8 at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Tickets range from $25 to $29. Admission is $5 or free with two cans of food. Besides the hunting and fishing gear on display at the Expo, there’ll be a duck calling contest, archery competition, mechanical bull riding, rodeo roping and a cowboy hat toss.

As if sausage and country music weren’t enough, Hot Springs gets lyrical with the 2006 Arkansas Grand Slam poetry contest, hosted by “Slampapi” Marc Smith throughout the day Friday and Saturday at The Poet’s Loft, 514B Central Ave. Contestants will be limited to 40; a $50 entry fee will be charged. The grand prize is $1,000, and first through fourth places will win cash awards as well. The winner will be announced after the final rounds, which will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday.

After a breather, Hot Springs cranks up again Oct. 20 through 29 for its showcase arts event of the fall: The 15th annual Documentary Film Festival. More than 90 films, will be screened. Films have yet to be announced; check http://www.hsdfi.org/ or call 501-321-4747 for information.



Hotels
Arlington Resort, 239 Central Ave. Frankly, we think it’s showing its age, and the rooms are small, but it’s still a classic, and the view from the veranda can’t be beat. 501-623-7771.

Embassy Suites, 400 Convention Blvd. Nice and new, and connected to the Summit Arena. It’s within walking distance of downtown. 501-624-9200.

Clarion, 4813 Central Ave. Just a step or two away from Lake Hamilton, a good choice in the warmer months. It will be a drive to the downtown events. 501-525-1391.

Majestic Hotel, 101 Park Ave. Where the Arlington is a little worn, the Majestic may be even more so, but it’s still got a classic feel about it. 501-623-5511.



Restaurants
Brau Haus, 801 Central Ave. Good German cuisine is hard to find anywhere in Central Arkansas, but it’s done up right here. German beer available, too, of course. Just right for Oktoberfest. 501-624-7866.

Belle Arti, 719 Central Ave. The fanciest Italian in the city, run by a Sicilian who knows his food and wine. 501-624-7474.

Brick House Grill, 801 Central Ave., Ste. 24. The best steaks for the money in a casual atmosphere in the middle of the bustling Historic District and Spencer’s Corner. 501-321-2926.

Chef Paul’s, 4330 Central Ave., Ste. A. It will be a little pricier than any other place in the city, and it’s a good haul from the downtown activities, but it will also be well worth it. The chef is skilled in every area. The fish and steaks are great. 501-520-4187.

Cafe Santa Clare, 323 Whittington Ave. The place is off the beaten path, but if you can find it off the main drag near the Majestic Hotel, you will fall in love with the flavors. The name says Mexican, but it’s much more than that, and the chef will dazzle you. 501-624-0166.


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