Solana Beach Oktoberfest has a definite beach feel


This year, celebrate the Bavarian festival of Oktoberfest with a purpose - to support the Solana Beach Lifeguard Department.

A one-of-a-kind Oktoberfest at the Belly Up Tavern on Oct. 26 is aiming to raise $50,000 for a new lifeguard rescue craft.

There will be sausage, beer and merry music, but not just any, run-of-the-mill grub, grog and song. This is Oktoberfest, Solana Beach style.

The Solana Brothers, a homegrown group of foodies, are donating their gourmet talents to prepare an authentic German menu.

From warm pretzels, bierkase (beer cheese) and sauerkraut balls, to grilled kielbasa, fried German potato salad and pear cranberry strudel (and a whole lot more), the chefs are taking on their most adventurous spread and largest crowd yet.

“We’re estimating quantities of food,” said Solana Brother John Chamberlain. “It’s not two tablespoons, we need three gallons.”

When he’s not cooking, Chamberlain is chief executive officer of American Assets, which owns the city’s two shopping centers.

Cooking up fun

The idea of a fundraiser began with the Solana Brothers. The group of friends, who have been cooking together for years, hosted a meal for the crew at the Carmel Valley police substation.

Wanting to do something in their own backyard, Chamberlain offered their cooking services for some sort of fundraiser to Solana Beach City Manager David Ott.

While the city has adequate funding to cover its expenses, the lifeguards could improve their services with an updated rescue boat, said lifeguard Capt. Craig Miller.

The inflatable boat enables the guards to do more than they can on their personal watercraft, such as respond to emergencies in other cities, tug vessels in distress to safe harbor, and conduct diving search and rescue operations, he added.

Aging craft

The department’s current boat is about 20 years old and due for replacement. Miller was planning to purchase a new engine to nurse it along a little longer, but he said a new craft “will bring us into the 21st century.”

The community has thrown its support behind the cause, with numerous businesses, organizations and families offering to sponsor or help at the event.

“I’m pretty shocked how much people have come out and supported us, especially right now in this economy,” Miller said. “I’m very appreciative.”

Working together

Such an event wouldn’t be possible without broad community involvement, Chamberlain said.

The Belly Up Tavern is donating its venue on South Cedros Avenue and Irish-rock band the Young Dubliners will headline the evening, accompanied by opening bands Poprox and Xception.

Channel 8’s meteorologist Shawn Styles will host the event, which also features a silent and live auction. Hot items include a dinner with the lifeguards cooked by the Solana Brother, and a 50-ticket package to the Young Dubliners Christmas show.

While still a ways from the goal of $50,000, Chamberlain said he is confident they will reach it.

“I think people like to band together to do what they can for the better good,” he said. “Come out and support the lifeguards.”

The event begins at 5 p.m. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased through the Belly Up box office, or online at