Oktoberfest: How to experience southwest Ohio events this year


This is the time of year when people are donning their lederhosen and warming up their taste buds for copious amounts of German food and beer.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 had other plans for 2020. See below for an update on your favorite Oktoberfest events, and how you can celebrate Oktoberfest even if on a limited basis.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati

Cincinnati has long thrown the biggest Oktobefest party outside of Munich, with downtown blocked off so people could sample hordes of German food and beer, and unique activities like the Running of the Wieners and the World’s Largest Chicken Dance.

COVID Status: Due to the pandemic, oddly, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is both dialing it back and expanding at the same time. The 2020 fest will be a hybrid, lasting ten days (Sept. 18-27) instead of the usual long weekend. Those who prefer to celebrate Oktoberfest in their homes can do what’s called “Oktoberfest In Za Haus,” where you can order do-it-yourself Oktoberfest kits from www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com. The kits include coupons, a yard sign, “suspender” koozies, a pair of actual suspenders, and access to a musical playlist. Each kit costs $34.99, and you can order them for friends and neighbors as well, thus “spreading the party.”

After you don your suspenders and slip your koozie around your Oktoberfest beer of choice, you can watch the following traditional events online: the Opening Ceremony, the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, the Samuel Adams Stein Hoist Challenge, the World’s Largest Oktoberfest Toast, the singing of “Ein Presit,” and live performances.

Those who want to experience Oktoberfest in person will be able to do so at select bars, restaurants, and breweries (check www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com for updates as the time gets closer). These establishments will continue to practice the COVID measures already in place. There will also be bands doing Polka Pop Ups at different parts of the neighborhood. With Munich officially bowing out this year, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati will officially be the biggest Oktoberfest party in the world.

DAI Oktoberfest

Few art galleries throw Oktoberfest parties, but for the Dayton Art Institute, it has been their biggest, most popular annual fundraiser for years. In addition to the food, drink, live music, artisans, and family activities, special events include the Lederhosen Lunch and the limited-attendance preview party.

COVID Status: The Dai Oktobertfest is going entirely virtual this year. There will be a special livestreaming event on Sept. 26, featuring live music and other surprises. Details are forthcoming. Keep checking www.daytonartinstitute.org for details.

Minster Oktoberfest

It’s a small town of 3,000 people located one hour north of Dayton, yet people come from miles around, even from other states, to attend their annual Oktoberfest. Their special events include Beer Tray Relay Races, a Jug Hoist, car show, and a 10K.

COVID Update: Canceled. In the end, Minster decided they couldn’t hold the event while adhering to the guidelines of the Ohio Health Department and the Governor’s office. However, they will attempt to keep the Minster Oktoberfest alive in small ways. Plans are afoot to safely hold the Little Miss and Miss Oktoberfest contests, a coloring contest will continue in local schools, and event collectibles will still be available for purchase. For more information, visit www.minsteroktoberfest.com.

Cincinnati Danauschwaben’s Oktoberfest

This Cincinnati club, which calls itself Cincinnati’s most authentic Oktoberfest, commemorates the culture of Danauschwaben, or peoples of German descent who lived in Hungary, Romania, and the former Yugoslavia. Their Oktoberfest features their famous dancers, a spit-roasted Bavarian pig and chicken, goulash, homemade German sausage and, of course, imported beer.

COVID Update: The official fest has been canceled. However, the club is working on plans for an abridged version of the fest on its original planned date on Oct. 4-6. No plans have been solidified yet, but interested folks can keep checking out www.cincydanau.com for updates.

Newport Oktoberfest

Northern Kentucky celebrates their Oktoberfest with their famous Christian Moerlein fest tent on Riverboat Row in Newport, featuring all the German food and various drinks you crave. There are contests for yodeling, the chicken dance, beer stein holding, brat tossing, log sawing and Nagelbalken (log nail hammering). Arts and crafts, a full lineup of live music, and dancers round out the entertainment.

COVID Update: Cincinnati Festivals and Events announced just Tuesday they were canceling Newport Oktoberfest. Officials decided Newport Oktoberfest just couldn’t take place under current conditions but waited until the last minute in the possibility that Gov. DeWine would make an announcement easing the restrictions.

However, there will be a repeat of the Lobster Pop Up, which first took place in August after the cancellation of the Great Inland Seafood Festival. One of the most popular features of that festival was being able to purchase whole Maine lobsters for $10.95. The Lobster Pop Up allowed people to order a $10.95 lobster (live or cooked with drawn butter) or a $14.95 lobster meal that also included red potatoes, corn, and water. People could order as much as they wanted online, then drive to Riverboat Row and pick up their lobsters without getting out of their cars.

The Lobster Pop Up will repeat on Oct. 2 and 3. Check www.cincinnatifestivalsandevents.com for more info.

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