Hamilton hosted its first Oktoberfest! It made perfect sense that the German festival was held in downtown’s International Village. The BIA is the home of two classic hometown staples, and German ones, at that. Black Forest Inn and Denninger’s were all set to go with their traditional German fare.
The event was held over Labour Day weekend, on Friday night and continued all day Saturday. Along with plenty of food, there were sidewalk sales and live music. Performers included Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies, Poor Angus, Ginger St. James, Steve Sinnicks, Lo-Fi, Tomi Swick, and more.
As I rounded Ferguson Street to head toward to the stage, I was excited to see the “Opening Soon” sign on the Steel Lounge on King William. I read a recent article in The Spec about the venue which will be an LGBTQ-friendly space. This will be a welcomed addition to the city. What a great building – can’t wait to check it out.
After catching some live music (local artist Steve Sinnicks was just on as I arrived), I walked around to get the lay of the land. It was easy to have food on the brain – from Denninger’s classic sausage on a bun to the food trucks, there were lots of options.
The festivities coincided with the grand opening of Cafe Oranje (312 King Street East). I was looking forward to seeing the new coffee shop and congratulating co-owners Amy Gringhuis and Christopher Godwaldt. It had been a long time coming for the two. I feel like I got to watch their journey, starting from when I saw them serving up coffee in a temporary location at last year’s Supercrawl, to getting a sneak peek during Dishcrawl in the International Village.
The Dutch-infused coffee shop is lovely and bright with wooden floors and unique lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling. There are a couple of tables in the window overlooking King Street and a couple outside as well.
Cafe Oranje has a house blend created just for them using local roaster Hero Coffee. They sell bags of coffee from various roasters in the city, as well as supplies for all your caffeine needs – from mugs to coffee makers (including a simply genius invention – the AeroPress!).
They also serve delicious treats from Cake & Loaf. To celebrate the launch, the bakery created a huge cake that read “Oranje is the new black.” I couldn’t have said it better, myself. Welcome to the neighbourhood!
After getting my coffee and cake jolt, I wanted to stop by a couple of shops in the International Village that have been on my list. Hamilton’s first board game lounge, Gameopolis, recently opened at 223 King Street East. I thought I had a lot of board games growing up, but this is insane! The shelves of games line one of the walls and are broken down into categories. For just $5, choose a game, grab a table, some snacks, and play away! Their menu also sounds quite good. It’s very exciting to see yet another creative small business pop up.
From there, I wandered down to Girl On The Wing (181 King Street East). Right from seeing the pale pink and blue storefront, I knew the vintage boutique would be my kind of place. Owner Whitney McMeekin was just peeking outside as I walked up to the door and we were pleased to finally meet, having chatted over Twitter.
Girl On The Wing is so bright and colourful. There is so much to look at, from vintage, one-of-a kind treasures and garments, to contemporary and homemade items. Along with clothing, the shop also carries stationary, pieces of home decor, and lots of accessories. I liked the line of literary-inspired t-shirts and totes – particularly the Great Gatsby ones.
I’m always on the hunt for dresses and spotted some really cute ones. Whitney has a great eye and does an excellent job curating the shop. Having worked in the fashion industry for years, she knows what to look for.
It wouldn’t be a festival without indulging in some food. I spotted self-serve ice cream truck Crazy Cravings which I had discovered at a recent Dishcrawl in Dundas
It was an easy decision, though, when I saw that it was Tacocat‘s grand opening. I was pleased to try the new Mexican food truck and meet owners Dave and Amy. Both were super friendly and excited to get their truck on the road.
You can choose any combo of their four tacos. I went with Cactus and Chilies, Tequila Lime Chicken, and Pork Pibil (the fourth being Beef Barbacoa). We’ve established that I can’t handle spicy foods, but I was a-ok with all of these. In fact, I managed to eat them in order from spiciest to least, so that just worked out for me. All were so super tasty! Tacocat now have a new fan (or kitten?) in me.
It was a great first year for Oktoberfest. I look forward to seeing the event grow in the coming years and it was a fun occasion to explore the International Village.