Oktoberfest returns to The Dayton Art Institute next weekend.
By Mark Luedke
After a boiling summer, one of the hottest on record, a welcome, autumn-like cool blew through the Dayton region early this month. Such an occrrence serves as a reminder that it’s time for the annual Oktoberfest party Saturday, September 25 and Sunday, September 26 at the Dayton Art Institute (DAI). After the weather we’ve had this year, the new slogan means good news for area residents: “More tents… More beer… More FUN!” For the first time DAI organizers will erect an enormous tent covering the main stage and seating areas this year making the event even more weather resistant than usual.
For the 39th year, DAI brings together the region’s best food vendors, craftsmen, entertainment and beer selection for German-inspired fun.
Oktoberfest will feature over 30 food vendors including many area favorites. Partygoers can enjoy traditional German food such as brats, metts, potato salad, sauerkraut and cabbage rolls or any number of American and international dishes such as hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue or gyros, egg rolls or kibbeh. There will also be plenty of foods to satisfy any sweet tooth like Dippin’ Dots ice cream, pastries and cookies.
Nick Clemens has organized the alumni of the DAI board to serve brats and metts in the food tent since 1987. DAI is near and dear to Clemens’ heart, and he volunteers to keep in touch with the organization. Many Daytonians only visit the Art Institute for Oktoberfest, so he enjoys working this event to introduce more people to Dayton’s rich, artistic culture. He has also enjoyed watching the event evolve into a more international affair over the years. He expects to raise $7,000 to $9,000 for the Institute this year.
Rose Nolf is another veteran of the food tent and Clemens’ neighbor during the event. This is the 15th year the Eintracht Singing Society members have served a traditional German dinner at Oktoberfest. Nolf enjoys this event immensely because it’s like a family reunion to her. She’s become friends with many of the other food vendors, and enjoys tasting the new dishes they bring each year. Eintracht will prepare 700 pounds of potato salad for the event including frying 60 pounds of bacon to ensure an authentic German flavor. They also plan to make
60 gallons of sauerkraut seasoned with 50 pounds of pork. Nolf’s group will also serve cabbage rolls, a traditional Oktoberfest favorite, and by request they will feature jagerschnitzel, breaded pork tenderloin with mushroom sauce, as this year’s entree. Oktoberfest is one of Eintracht Singing Society’s biggest fundraisers of the year.
In addi-tion, DAI will feature over 60 arti-
sans including many new ones this year as well as traditional favorites in three large tents. The artisans will display paintings, sculptures, pottery, leather works, jewelry and more. Several fine artists will present their works as well.
Oktoberfest features musical entertainment on both the main stage, covered this year, and in the food tent. As always, the Sauerkraut German Band will kick off the entertainment schedule in the food tent on both Saturday and Sunday. DAI also presents music and dancing in the auditorium inside the Institute, which offers a wonderful refuge from the weather and an opportunity to look at the various art exhibits.
DAI also offers family-friendly activities for children from 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Children can work on three projects, creating bracelets, masks and rubbings, all based on the museum’s African-American Collection. An artist will collect the rubbings and at the end of the event will combine them into a unique work of art: a large elephant mask. DAI will also register kids into their Museum Kids Club, a program “developed specifically to reach the under-served young people in our community.”
When most people think of Oktoberfest, they think of beer. As always, DAI will serve a tremendous selection of international, domestic and craft beers at Oktoberfest. The international beer booth will be covered by the main tent this year so event-goers can get from their seats to the beer booth without being subject to the weather. Craft beer will be served in the craft beer tent which will be set up like a sports bar including four TVs to show The Ohio State Buckeye’s game on Saturday and NFL games on Sunday. The weingarten will be set up in its usual spot on the Riverview Ave. side of the building. Craft beer tastings and wine tastings will be available, and DAI will offer its annual designer mug, large and regular, for sale with a complimentary beer.
But there’s more to Oktoberfest at DAI than just great beer, food, crafts and entertainment. Throughout its history, Oktoberfest has raised more than $4 million for DAI and drawn over 800,000 people to the Art Institute. “We’re getting a lot of people to the museum that may not traditionally come throughout the year, so (Oktoberfest) is exposing a lot of people to the Art Institute,” said Amanda Burks, manager of special events. And bringing art into the lives of the people of Dayton is what DAI is all about.
For those who want to enjoy Octoberfest without 25,000 of their closest friends, DAI offers a preview party on Friday, September 24 from 7 to 11 pm. Burks calls it the “intimate party of 2,000.” Tickets for the preview party cost $45 for members and $55 for non-members in advance and can be purchased online at www.DaytonArtInsitute.org/Oktoberfest or at the Visitor Service Desk during regular museum hours. Tickets are $80 at the gate and include free domestic draft beer and wine.
It’s a little cheaper to attend Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $4 in advance and $6 at the gate. Advance tickets can be purchased online, at a number of local businesses or at DAI. Special prices are available for seniors and children. Parking near DAI is extremely limited, but there is free parking in the Imperial Packaging Corporation parking lot 1/2 mile east of UD Arena on Edwin C. Moses Blvd. A free Oktoberfest shuttle will take you directly to the DAI. You can also catch an RTA bus downtown along Main Street, Fifth Street or Second Street at no charge. Oktoberfest runs Saturday from 12 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 7 p.m. For additional information, call
(937) 223-5277 or visit www.DaytonArtInsitute.org/Oktoberfest. The DAI is located at 456 Belmonte Park North.
Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke