It may be called "Oktoberfest," but the big event starts in September. It all began with a wedding—in October 1810. On the 12th day of October that year, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I of Bavaria) wed Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen and held a big party near Munich (München). It was so popular, that the party (complete with horse racing) took place again the following year, prompting the start of a traditional German celebration that has become world famous. Other than for interruptions caused by war or disease, Oktoberfest has been celebrated every year since 1811. The massive Bavarian Volksfest begins each year on a Saturday in September and ends 16-18 days later (usually) on the first Sunday in October. (For 2006 the dates are September 16 to October 3 — 18 days. 2007: Sept. 22 - Oct. 7 — 16 days.) Because October 3 is a national holiday in Germany, Oktoberfest is extended if Unity Day falls after the first Sunday in October, making Oktoberfest vary from 16 to 18 days in length.
"There seems to be an Oktoberfest in every city in the USA." Just googled it & yes, they're be celebrating all over town. I think a lot of businesses just call it 'Octoberfest', maybe serve some German food, etc.
I think it's more about drink than food, though that is included too. Oktoberfest here in Dublin seems rather low key - probably focusing on some German communities that live in the city. It's not a wide-spread thing - but what would I know.
A few days ago we had what is called "Arthur's Day" - after Arthur Guinness, the founder of the famous Guinness stout / beer. It was to be year two of this event. It caused a lot of controversy, and protests from doctors etc, who claimed it was just one more excuse for people to drink to excess, and the A&E units were full enough with drunks and people injured as a result of brawling, as it was. There was a question of calling it off, but it did go ahead. The owner of the brewery, which is no longer owned by Guinness, spent most of the day visiting A&E units just to show he was concerned re people drinking to excess.
As we have Paddy's Day, which is renowned as a drinking day, many people feel that is enough. I don't know whether Arthur's Day will go ahead, or not, next year.