Dayton Art Institute’s Oktoberfest, named Best Annual Festival in the 2023 Best of Dayton contest, is expected to be bigger, better and extra special this year.
Presented by Miller Lite Sept. 22-24, the 52nd annual festivities will kick off Friday with the Lederhosen Lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. followed by the Preview Party from 7 to 11 p.m. The festivities will continue Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.
Oktoberfest, now half as old as the 104-year-old DAI, is a tradition that is stronger than ever, according to organizers.
“We continue to get back to full speed after a soft kind of post-COVID opening,” said Mike Griest, marketing and communications manager for DAI. “This year we’re back to full tilt. We wanted to make sure everything’s back to the number of artisans to the number of beer offerings, more music. There’s more of everything. It’s everything everybody loves, but it’s turned up.”
The planning for the event begins right after the last one ends. Theresa and Keith Packard co-chair this year’s Oktoberfest, and they want to make sure they can help the museum as much as possible.
“We want to make it the event that it is for the museum,” Theresa said. “It’s a big fundraiser for the museum. It’s very important. We’re here to have a really good time, we’re all really nice people, but we want to make money for the museum.”
Upward of 30,000 people attend the festival each year. DAI Director and CEO Michael Roediger said the best part is the diversity on display.
“One of the things I love about Oktoberfest is the cross-section of people,” Roediger said. “We constantly are working to let everyone know they’re welcome and belong at the DAI. We always say no matter your race, culture, religion, orientation, there’s a place for you here, and you see it at Oktoberfest.”
FOOD AND DRINKS
The main Oktoberfest celebration includes a wide variety of delicious foods, more than 50 different craft and international beers and a selection of domestic and international wines. There have also been new food additions.
“You can get anything you want,” Theresa noted. “We’ve added pizza. We’ve added coffee. But your favorites are still here. Schmidt’s (Sausage Haus) is still here.”
There is also a giant selection of craft and domestic beers, wines and seltzers. New drinks include an alcoholic red cream soda and an alcoholic version of Monster Energy Drink. Patrons can also find non-alcoholic drinks as well.
“I think we have folks who really want German beer,” Griest said. “We also have banana bread beer. We have folks who come on kind of a beer mission, and we still have those things, but we also have things that are new.”
Food vendors include: Associate Board Alumni Brats & Metts; Bavarian Roasted Nuts; Bessie’s Noodles; Big B’s Tasty BBQ; Black Jack Grill; Bourbon Street; Brock Masterson’s; Cosmic Kettle Corn; Dayton Eintracht Singing Society; DK Diner; Dublin Pub; Greek Orthodox Church; Hamburger Wagon; Hey Hey Bar & Grill; Pretzel Hut; Kung Fu BBQ; RKP Vending; The Original Strudel Factory; Two Fat Indians and Young’s Jersey Dairy.
BEER, WINE AND OTHER DRINKS
Main beer truck – All draft beers $7: Miller Lite, Warsteiner OKT, Blue Moon, Warsteiner Dunkel, Warsteiner Pills, Leinenkugel OKT, Atwater Pumpkin, Konig Ludwig Weiss, Hop Valley Bubble Stash IPA and Strongbow Cider.
Greek and River Gate beer truck – All draft beers $7: Miller Lite, Warsteiner OKT, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel OKT, Hop Valley Bubble Stash IPA and Atwater Pumpkin.
Warsteiner truck – All draft beers $7: Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Warsteiner Pils, Warsteiner Dunkel and Konig Weissbier.
Craft beer truck No. 1 – All draft beers $8: Great Lakes Oktoberfest, Southern Tier, Pumpking, 50W Doom Pedal, Franzkaner Hefe Weisse, New Belgium Juicy Haze, Founders Breakfast Stout, Bell’s Two Hearted, Madtree Zeigler, Madtree Pumpcan and Moeller Orange Peel Krush.
Craft beer truck No. 2 – All draft beers $8: La Chouffee, Weihenstephaner Festiber, Jackie O’s Mystic Mama, Steigl Grapefruit, Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat, Eagle Banana Bread, Fretboard Vlad Pilsner, Urban Artifact Teak, Radeberger Pilsner, Einbecker Dunkel, Fat Head’s Bumbleberry and Vedett Extra White.
Cantina – featuring hard seltzers and more for $6: Topo Chico Seltzer – Strawberry Guava, Sway by Madtree- Grapefruit Ginger, Southern Tier King & Cola, Long Drink Traditional and Simply Spiked Lemonade.
Bottle shop – Prices vary by beer: Warsteiner Pilsner, Cigar City Jai Alai, Smirnoff Red, White, Berry, Great Lakes Nosferatu, Founders Underground Mountain Brown, New Belgium Transatlantique Kreik, Franziskaner Hefeweizen, New Belgium VooDoo Ranger, Lone River Ranch Water, MadTree JuneDels Lemon Shandy, Weihenstephan Hefeweizen, Stone Hazy, Bitburger Pils, Old Rasputin Stout, Reissdorf Kolsch, Schneider Weisse Aventinus, Delirium Tremens, La Trappe Quadrupel, Arrogant Bastard and Duvel Belgian Strong Blond
Wine at the Preview Party: Pizzolato – sparkling, Terra d’Oro – pinot grigio, Simi – chardonnay, Spellbound – pinot noir and Z Alexander – red blend.
On Saturday and Sunday all wines are $7 a glass and $25 a bottle.
White wines: Relax Riesling – sweet and German, Three Pears Pinot Grigio – light and fruity, Overstone Sauvignon Blanc – crisp and dry, McManis Chardonnay – full-bodied and dry and Protea Rose – soft and floral.
Red wines: Silver Gate Pinot Noir – light and smooth, Trivento Red Blend – smooth and jammy and Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon – full-bodied and dry.
This year there will be two stages with music. In addition to beloved polka music, there will bands on the main stage that will be rocking.
Lederhosen Lunch: The Bergstrasse Boys (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.). Preview Party: Ken Taylor and the Six Fat Sausage Polka Band (7-10 p.m.); Mojoflo (8-11 p.m.)
Main stage: KC and the Moonlighters (12:30-3:30 p.m.); Weekend Effect (4-7 p.m.); Party Punch (8-11 p.m.)
Food tent: Mary’s Turbo Accordion Express (12-3 p.m.); Schnickelfritz (3:30-6 p.m.); Ken Taylor and the Six Fat Sausage Polka Band (6:30-9:30 p.m.)
Main stage: Trapper Keepers (12-2 p.m.); Ithika (2:30-4:30 p.m.); Spungewurthy (5-7 p.m.)
Food tent: Mary’s Turbo Accordion Express (12-3 p.m.); Aaron Dussing & the Polka Revolution (3:30-6 p.m.)
Oktoberfest will have two artisan tents for the first time since COVID. Forty artisans will represent nine disciplines and 10 states, both old favorites and exciting new wares.
Ceramics: Bubba Jones Brew Cups, Sippel Steins, Artistic Earth Pottery and Jl vision
Fiber: Stage Struck Puppets
Painting: Ashley Sullivan
Glass: All About Glass Art, Studio 446, Nyminal Glass and Fused Glass Creations LLC
Jewelry: Ziegler Designs, LLC, Beaded Journeys by Lauren, DNA by Daina, Danladi Designs, Jo Anne Vincent – Italiano, Trittello and Mythic Silver
Mixed media: Nature Green, John Lee, uniquerockart.com and RW2 Gallery
Photography: Fly Wright Photography, Cleary Creative Photography and Dan Tye Photography
Woodworking: Stahl Prof Svcs, LLC, Lon Baker-Wood Joiner, TurnAway, Rachel McFarlane and Rockford Woodcrafts
LEIDERHOSEN LUNCH AND PREVIEW PARTY
The Leiderhosen Lunch will be held Friday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event is a special community lunch offering the only free admission of the weekend. The main beer truck will be open, and a variety of foods are available for purchase including bratwurst, mettwurst, schnitzel sandwiches, German salads, homemade noodles and beverages. Guests may also buy event tickets as well as Oktoberfest mugs and T-shirts.
“The lunch was started by a group of our alumni from the associate board who wanted to kind of maximize what we already had going for us,” Griest explained. “One of great things about Lederhosen Lunch is it’s all of the Oktoberfest parts of the weekend. Sometimes it’s easier for folks to get in and out.”
The annual Oktoberfest Preview Party will take place Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. This ticketed event includes complimentary draft beer, wine and soft drinks. Free shuttle service will also be offered during the Preview Party. Mojoflo will be performing at the party as well as Ken Taylor and The Six Fat Sausage Polka Band.
“I always look at Friday night as networking and connecting with business people and friends you haven’t seen in a while,” Roediger added. “I always look at Saturday as Family Day, and then at 5 o’clock it turns into a big party.”
Advance tickets for the Preview Party are $55 for members and $75 for non-members and may be purchased online at daytonartinstitute.org/oktoberfest. All tickets purchased at the gate are $95. All guests must be 21 with a valid ID to attend the Preview Party.
FAMILYFEST AND SUNDAY FUNDAY HAPPY HOUR
While many people attend Oktoberfest for food and beer, there are family-friendly events throughout the weekend. The ACCO Brands FamilyFest will take place Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. Aart activities include a collaborative art project and pretzel headband kits. Festival co-chair Keith Packard recognized the importance of ensuring a family-friendly vibe.
“In the past we focused a little bit much on beer and food, but we still have that whole Oktoberfest atmosphere,” Packard said. “There are kids’ events and now we have some more kid-friendly food, (including) ice cream and pizza.”
In addition, Oktoberfest takes place right in the middle of football season, so there will be a special tent featuring four large TVs showing various games. Ohio State plays Notre Dame Saturday evening, so event planners expect the TV tent to be very busy.
“We know there’s a group of people that want to come and hear music in the background, watch the game, be able to have a beer and meet up with friends,” Roediger said. “The people come to this festival for a lot of different reasons. So there might be a group that comes because it’s fun to watch football outside under a tent and hear music. There are people that come and sit in the lawn all day, eat, drink beer, and watch great bands.”
The Sunday Funday Happy Hour will be held Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. There will be special happy hour prices on all draft beer. Weingarten and Cantina selections will be $6, and bottles of wine will be available for $18.
Oktoberfest wouldn’t happen without the many volunteers who work to make everything run smoothly. Griest said the DAI needs to fill about 40 percent of the remaining volunteer spots. Anyone who volunteers receives free admission to the festival.
“We’ll make sure you’re well taken care of with whatever you would like to drink during that time,” Griest said. “And it’s a lot of fun. It’s not just pouring beer. We have folks who sell water. We have folks that work at the gate.”
Volunteers can work multiple shifts as individuals, couples or groups. To volunteer within the areas of beer, wine, and gates and shuttles, volunteers must be 21 years of age or older and can only register for one shift. Roediger encourages groups to volunteer together.
“We have churches volunteer or the military,” he said. “We have sororities. It’s just a really fun outing for groups to come and volunteer.”
To volunteer, visit the daytonartinstitute.org/oktoberfest and fill out an online form.
PARKING AND SHUTTTLES
Oktoberfest organizers strongly encourage people to use the shuttle options as parking near DAI is limited. Greater Dayton RTA will also provide free shuttles from downtown Dayton to Oktoberfest on Saturday and Sunday as well as to Friday’s Lederhosen Lunch.
Park for free at the University of Dayton parking lot on River Park Drive, between Patterson Boulevard and Main Street, behind the Dayton Marriott. From the lot, catch the free Oktoberfest shuttle directly to the event. The shuttle runs Friday evening for the Preview Party and all-day Saturday and Sunday for Oktoberfest.
RTA provides free shuttle service from downtown Dayton during the Lederhosen Lunch on Friday. Shuttles run from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Look for shuttle stop locations along Monument Avenue, Wilkinson Street, Second Street, Main Street and Fifth Street.
Festivalgoers may park downtown and catch a free RTA shuttle to and from Oktoberfest on Saturday and Sunday. RTA shuttles run directly to the event from stops along Monument Avenue, Wilkinson Street, Second Street, Main Street and Fifth Street. Look for the RTA shuttles with Oktoberfest destination signs and board at any stop along this route. There is no charge for the RTA shuttle ride. RTA shuttles will run from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
There is no parking on the levy across from the museum or in McKinley Park during any Oktoberfest events. Please park only in approved locations.
The DAI does not allow the following at Oktoberfest: pets (except service dogs), backpacks and large bags, firearms or other weapons.
The museum itself will not be open during Oktoberfest.
Bring your ID. Every person will have to show an ID in order to drink. All ages are welcome at the Oktoberfest, but the Preview Party is 21 and up.
The beer and wine list can be found on DAI’s website but is subject to change. The music lineup is also subject to change.
HOW TO GO
Where: Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park N., Dayton
When: Sept 22-24; Friday’s Lederhosen Lunch will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. followed by the Preview Party from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday from noon to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.
Tickets: Advance general admission tickets for Oktoberfest (Saturday/Sunday) are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and youth (ages 7–18). Tickets purchased at the gate are $10 for adults and $7 seniors and youth. Children 6 and under are free. Advance general admission tickets are available for purchase at the following Dayton-area locations (through the close of business on Sept. 22): Dorothy Lane Market in Oakwood, Washington Square and Springboro; Arrow Wine on Far Hills and Lyons Road; Ghostlight Coffee on Patterson, Wayne and at the Second Street Market; Coffee Hub in Xenia and Beavercreek; and Old Scratch Pizza in Beavercreek, Downtown Dayton and Washington Township. Advance general admission tickets may also be purchased at the DAI during regular museum hours.
More info: Visit daytonartinstitute.org/oktoberfest.