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- Roll out the Oktoberfests
- Garrison Hilliard
August 28, 2009, 2:44 am
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Roll out the Oktoberfests
It's time to pull on those lederhosen
By Lauren Bishop • firstname.lastname@example.org • August 27, 2009
Forget that oft-repeated quote about Cincinnati being 10 years (or is it 20?)
behind the times. This time of year at least, we're way ahead of things: We
start celebrating October in August. Take that, Mark Twain.
Starting Friday, people will polka, scarf down sauerkraut balls and knock back
beer at Oktoberfest celebrations going on every weekend through early October.
We've found 11 Oktoberfests so far, from small parish festivals to
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati Sept. 19-20, Downtown, which claims to be the largest in
this country, and the largest outside of Munich, Germany, attracting some
So sorry, St. Louis.
Maybe next year, Milwaukee.
By our count, Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have more Oktoberfest
celebrations than those cities that make up the other two points on the
so-called "German Triangle," named for the large numbers of German immigrants
who settled in those three cities in the 19th century.
Another city with a large German-American population, Chicago, comes close,
depending on how you count the fests: We found two urban Oktoberfests and at
least six more if you include its burbs and outlying cities.
But any way you slice it, it's official: Cincinnati is Oktoberfest-obsessed.
"I think people find it amazing that we have so many Oktoberfests," said
historian and German-American scholar Don Heinrich Tolzmann, president of the
German American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati. "The fact that we have so
many is an expression of its popularity with the public and also of the German
heritage organizations in the area."
Three of the 28 organizations that make up the German American Citizens League
will put on Oktoberfests this year as fundraisers. First up is the Germania
Society Oktoberfest this weekend in Colerain Township, which is in its 39th
The Germania Society has been holding its Oktoberfest every August since the
'70s because it wanted to get out in front of all of the others, organizers have
said. Also, given that the original Oktoberfest in Munich runs from mid- to
late-September through early October, "We don't want people to go over there and
ignore ours," Germania Society volunteer Ruth Pfefferkorn says.
The area's German organizations also have a tacit agreement not to hold their
Oktoberfests on the same weekend, says Klaus Giese, chairman of the Liberty Home
Association's Oktoberfest in Ross Township, which, in its 44th year, claims the
Sept. 4-6 slot.
So why don't more Oktoberfests take place in October? Because no one wants to
take the risk that cold weather will keep away revelers, Giese says.
Liberty Home's Oktoberfest is followed by three municipal celebrations: The 31st
annual MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest, Sept. 11-13; the 33rd annual
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, Sept. 19-20; and the 5-year-old Newport Oktoberfest,
Sept. 25-27. Mount Adams is also having an Oktoberfest on a Wednesday night,
The only Oktoberfest that actually takes place in October is the Donauschwaben
Oktoberfest in Colerain Township (Oct. 2-4 this year). It's always held then to
coincide with the end of the Munich Oktoberfest.
Though they're not as ubiquitous (yet) as Lenten fish fries or summer parish
festivals, at least four area churches - St. Jude Church in Green Township, Our
Lady of the Rosary Parish in Greenhills, Annunciation in Clifton and St. Timothy
Parish in Union - are also holding Oktoberfests in September.
In fact, the area's Oktoberfest calendar has gotten so packed that, after five
years, the Kolping Society of Cincinnati decided not to put on an Oktoberfest
this year, president Tom Musbach said.
"We were kind of the Johnny-come-latelies to the Oktoberfest scene," Musbach
says. "There's just so much competition."
St. Louis and Milwaukee, however, don't seem to have that problem.
St. Louis's Soulard Oktoberfest, Oct. 9-11, is the main celebration in that
city. St. Charles, Mo., and Belleville, Ill., both about a 30-minute drive from
St. Louis, hold their own Oktoberfests in September.
Milwaukee has two Oktoberfests, one that takes place on the three September
weekends after Labor Day in the suburb of Glendale, and one Sept. 26-27,
downtown. Milwaukee also claims to have the largest German festival in the U.S.,
German Fest, in late July.
"We've long talked about the successful event you have in Cincinnati and how
Milwaukee (Brew City) and its rich brewing and Germanic history should have the
nation's biggest and best Oktoberfest," David A. Fantle, vice president of
public relations for Visit Milwaukee, said via e-mail.
Keep talking, Milwaukee. We here in Cincinnati will be eating, drinking and
dancing away the next six weekends.
Re: Roll out the Oktoberfests
Usually all of the big German Brewers (Spaaten, Warsteiner, Hofbrau, et
al), the ubiquitous BMC booths, plus Christian Moerlein, Barrelhouse, and
Rock Bottom brands.
And, yeah... (grumble, grumble) Sam Adams, who kicked Cincinnati's home
breweries out in the cold.
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