After missing last year, “Harvest Haus” is back in a big way, and at a larger venue. From October 10-20th celebrate Oktoberfest with “The Social Concierge” and “Playland”. This year they have made the occasion a family affair, with two features: “Harvest Land” and “Harvest Haus”. The latter is a drink hall for adults; the former a German themed farm festival, with numerous attractions for young and old. I visited opening night and partook in both for the review below.
“Harvest Land” is open at 4pm. Kid friendly, there is plenty to keep them occupied. With a map and well labelled areas, it is fun to explore the expanse of the outdoor fair ground. But be warned, majority of the attractions do require a fee to play.
“Woodland Den” has axe throwing. You pay for throws and get a crash course before you start. A flick of the wrist to make the axe spin and stick, it is harder than it looks. Here, you can also try your hand at log sawing, or simply watch it being done below.
I enjoyed the comedy of the lumberjacks performing in the “logger area”. A show in the use of a chainsaw and the two man hand saw. Two professional teams competed and hilariousness ensued.
I was most excited about the “woodland labyrinth”, so was disappointed by it the most. What looked like hedges to weave through on the map, was actually a series of fencing arranged like a maze. A few panels were decorated, many more left plain. You simply walked along the path, ending up where you started from. Near the exit was a feature that felt undone. As a whole, this exhibit felt rushed. I wish the show runners created pausing points and photo ops within the labyrinth. Or had projectors strobing light and casting patterns for more visual interest. Day or night it is the same with varying amounts of light.
The “Kinder Farm” zone cleverly used exhibits and props from PNE’s agrodome. Tractors, plastic farm animals, and the petting zoo. Lambs, goats, rabbits, chicks, and a donkey made an appearance here.
There were also pony rides from some of the most fashionable horses around. With their manes dyed and their harnesses bedazzled they were like pageant contestants.
There was even a pumpkin patch to take photos in. Not the ones on farms where you can pick your own from the patch. But many individual pumpkins assembled on the grass to simulate the experience, without any of the mud associated.
I especially liked the giant pumpkins in planters, still on stem. And the shelf stocked with pumpkins and gourds of various sizes and colours.
Here, you could also purchase pumpkin and cabbages for throwing and slicing. Baby porcelain pumpkins were armed into sling shot holsters; you fired them in a contained hay and grass field. For kids under 12 it was free, parents paid. And no, you don’t get to keep the pumpkin afterwards.
As for the cabbage, at $5 a head, you took each to the “Bavarian Village”, where you could live out your fruit ninja dreams. Wielding a real metal sword, you could stab, slice, or chop your cabbage head down to size. But you aren’t able to keep the salad afterwards.
If you don’t feel comfortable swinging a sword, you can watch the professionals handle theirs with sword play demonstrations, or get more comfortable with one through “knight camp training” in the “Marketplatz”.
And if swords aren’t your weapon of choice, there is also archery lessons and the opportunity to pull an arrow at a target.
Looking for more fun and games, then take part in classic fair games for prizes. Like ring toss and gone fishing.
All the above is located outdoors, so if and when it rains you can retreat into the “Marketplatz” to keep dry. Here you can ride on a merry-go-round or mini coaster. Or run around in their fun house. There are also vendors selling handmade wares to shop.
And for those needing an outfit for “Harvest Haus”, traditional lederhosen and dirndls are available for sale, as well as felt hats and steins. All of which are highly recommended when partying it up in the beer hall, which opens to ticket holders (separate from Harvest Land) at 6pm.
All “Harvest Haus” guests are required to rent and drink out of one of their branded steins for $3, plus a $5 deposit you get back when the stein is returned. If you spring for the VIP ticket, your admission includes the cost of the stein rental, and access to the raised Bavarian-themed long table VIP seating area, with its own VIP bar. This area guarantees you a seat in front of the band and the live performers.
Acrobats, jugglers, fire twirlers, and unicycle performers roamed the beer hall and fair grounds engaging in guests and posing for photos.
For those who are planning to stay for the evening’s festivities, I suggest eating before. Fuel up when exploring “Harvest Land”, as only salted and sweet pretzels are available within “Harvest Haus”. Majority of the food trucks and food stands are open and operating outdoors. You can bring said food in to “Harvest Haus”, but will need to check your stein in when leaving, and line up to get back in. And that is a missed opportunity, had their been food available indoors we probably would have spent more and stayed longer.
Food vendors included PNE staples like the grilled cheese stand, the one that specializes in chicken and waffles, and flavoured mini doughnuts. For the Oktoberfest theme there were plenty of German meat options available like pork hocs, bratwurst and sauerkraut, porchetta sandwiches, and pulled pork buns for various food trucks.
As for “Harvest Haus” itself, the event gives you the ability to drink and engage with other German and European beer-loving folk. All while partaking in drinking chants, and regale in the music of an oompah band: the official Harvest Haus sound of the Halle; as well as DJ Meike Zeddam, der mann über die stadt. The event runs every night until the 20th, with special seatings on certain days. So for more on that and to learn how to get your tickets for the largest fall themed celebration and Oktoberfest party, visit the link below.
Opening Night: Thur, Oct 10, 4pm – 10pm
Friday Night: Fri, Oct 11, 4pm – 10pm
Thanksgiving Weekend: Sat, Oct 12— Mon, Oct 14, 12pm – 10pm
Weeknights: Wed, Oct 16 — Fri, Oct 18, 4pm – 10pm
Closing Weekend: Sat, Oct 19 — Sun, Oct 20, 12pm – 10pm
Hastings Park – Home of the PNE Fair
2901 E Hastings St
Vancouver, BC V5K 5J1