The Best and the Würst

Oktoberfest at the DAI

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: The Chardon Polka Band will perform again at this year’s Oktoberfest; photo: MediaMoments.com/Peter Wine

Oktoberfest has been a German tradition since Crown Prince Ludwig wed Princess Therese in 1810. Here in our little corner of the globe, Oktoberfest has been a very special annual event supporting the Dayton Art Institute since 1972. It is a chance for those looking for a good time to enjoy some traditional and not-so-traditional German food, drink and entertainment, and support artisans from around the country who come to sell their work.

This year’s Oktoberfest, sponsored by Miller Lite, will be no exception. Sept. 26–28 will be an Oktoberfest weekend jam-packed with more beer, more wine, more food vendors and more artisans than ever before!

“This year’s Oktoberfest continues to offer some of the same traditions people love so much about the festival,” Laura Woeste, one of the 2014 Oktoberfest chairs, said. “It’s been going on for over 40 years and there’s just some things that continue to draw the community to the event, but there are a few special additions this year we’re really excited about.”

The first addition? There will be more beer at the 2014 Oktoberfest than at previous celebrations. “We have an additional craft beer truck that will be at the event and we think that’s an exciting way to continue to diversify the beer offerings at the festival,” Woeste said. “We think there’ll definitely be something for everyone to enjoy.”

This year also marks the first year ever to have a signature Oktoberfest beer produced for the festival by a local brewery, Toxic Brew Company. But what about those oenophiles who prefer their adult beverages to have been grape juice in a former life? Well, there’s plenty for them, too!

“If you aren’t a beer drinker, we have a wine garden area that’s really popular, and the wine area will be back again this year,” Woeste said. “We’re doing something a little different by offering an expanded wine area inside the museum in the Leo Bistro area, so that’ll be kind of nice for the wine drinkers.”

If drinking isn’t your thing, there will be plenty of food to choose from, and not just schnitzel and wurst, either (although, of course, all of your favorite German foods will be available)! “This festival really does offer something for everyone. While it is an Oktoberfest event, and we like to embrace that theme, we do have different types of food for folks who may want to try something a little different. So, the food court really offers everything from the traditional Oktoberfest plate to something a little less traditional, like maybe a burger. It’s not necessarily going to only be German food you find at the event. We have quite a variety of foods from the vendors. Everything from dinner items, snack items and obviously pretzels and typical kinds of festival food.”

After you whet your whistle and get something to eat, why not take a stroll around the festival grounds to see what the artisans have to offer? “There are over 65 vendors who will be here from throughout the U.S,” Woeste said. “Some local vendors, some regional vendors, it’s a nice mix of things like jewelry, painting, pottery, sculpture … you never know what you’re going to find at Oktoberfest, and we’re thrilled with the artisans who’ve committed to come to this year’s festival, so we think there’ll be a lot for everyone to enjoy.

“We have a separate committee that worked on getting artisans to apply and then reviewing their application, and inviting those who we scored the highest on the application to come to the event,” Woeste explained. “We have a local photographer who will be there, and then we have folks who are from a little further away that will be selling their artwork. It’s kind of neat to see the community we create that weekend.”

If you’re worried about whether to bring your rugrats to Oktoberfest, worry no more! Woeste assured us the festival is child-friendly, with plenty of activities to keep them happy while parents tent hop. “The museum organizes FamilyFest, which goes on Saturday and Sunday until 6 p.m. There certainly are things for children to do through the FamilyFest. And of course the museum is open. There’s a wonderful glass exhibit that will still be going on for folks to see. And there’s live entertainment throughout the weekend. I think one thing that might be a little bit different, too, is we’ve booked all German entertainment in the food tent all weekend long, so kids may enjoy that. We have live entertainment on the main stage, closer to the beer tent all weekend.”

One of the best things about Oktoberfest is the Preview Party, the Friday night before the festival begins. Each year, Preview Party gets bigger and better, and it has now become a tradition in and of itself. This year, live entertainment at Preview Party will be provided by popular Cincinnati cover band The Menus.

“Oktoberfest really kicks off on Friday night with the Preview Party,” Woeste said. “And this year The Menus are the featured band that will be at Preview Party, so we’re excited to have them come to the event and help kick off Oktoberfest. It’s open to everyone. Some people have the idea that Preview Party’s only for the museum members, and members certainly enjoy a discounted ticket price to that event, but anyone can attend the Preview Party and what’s special about that night is the slightly smaller crowd, and your ticket price includes complimentary draft beer. We have craft and international beer available for purchase that evening. All the food vendors are open for food purchase, and The Menus are going to be the entertainment, which is a lot of fun.

“If you’ve never been to the Preview Party, everyone I know who goes for their first time says, ‘I’m always coming back for this night!’ It’s a great night to come and kind of get the weekend started, and then we hope everyone will come back on Saturday or Sunday with their families. You have to be 21 to attend the Preview Party, so it’s an adult night, and there are no children.”

And if you just can’t wait until the preview party to start up your authentic German Oktoberfest experience, there’s one more opportunity to get things rolling early.

“On Friday, Sept. 26, we are having a lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., we’re calling it the Lederhosen Lunch, and it’s a fun way to try to get folks to come take a break from their workday and have a special lunch on the grounds,” Woeste explained. “There’s no cost to come to the museum for the lunch, and there will be live entertainment and a German meal you can purchase. The beer truck will be open for anyone who would like to get their weekend started a little early. That’s from 11-2 on Friday and then we’ll reopen the grounds at 7 p.m. for Preview Party.”

If you’re looking for an Oktoberfest-themed gift for that special someone, you can’t go wrong this year.

“We sell some really great items in our Oktoberfest ‘Mugs and Tees’ booth,” Woeste explained. “Every year there’s a special Oktoberfest mug. And this year’s mug is really great, I think. And we have some really fun T-shirts we’ll be selling, so that’s another thing where all the proceeds benefit the Art Institute. We’re just excited; we’ve prayed for good weather, and we’re looking forward to raising a lot of money for the museum.”

Praying for good weather, indeed! However, this rain-or-shine event won’t be stopped by a few raindrops!

“It’s worth noting the entire festival ground has tents all over it,” Woeste said. “There’s a big food tent, so that’s tented. The main craft tent is tented, so if by chance we would have any rain, there’s still plenty of places where you can enjoy the festival and be under cover. And the museum is open for folks who might want to see the glass exhibit, which will be open through Oktoberfest. It will be kind of one of the last weekends to see it before it closes, and it’s a really spectacular show, so we think that’s exciting.”
Those who really want to party, and would rather not drive, can hop on one of two free shuttle services heading to the event. The first picks up and drops off at the University of Dayton parking lot on River Park Drive, between the Dayton Marriott and the Dayton Daily News building, where your D.D. can park for free. There will also be free RTA shuttles picking up and dropping off along Fifth Street, Main Street and Second Street.
“Ideally, it will be a beautiful weekend and you can be outside, in a tent or not in a tent, and lots of seating is added that weekend, we have lots of tables and chairs and things like that we bring in for people to sit on and enjoy.”

There will truly be something for everyone this weekend at Oktoberfest, and all of the proceeds earned go to a good cause – helping out our local art museum! So, come on out and enjoy one of the best and longest-running events Dayton has to offer.

Oktoberfest will be held at the Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park N. on Saturday, Sept. 27 from noon – 11 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 28 from noon – 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $5 for adults, and $3 for seniors (60+) and youths (7-17). Advanced tickets may be purchased at Arrow Wine, Dorothy Lane Market, Bee-Gee’s Market, Chappys Tap Room & Grille, Dublin Pub, Ghostlight Coffee, Square One Salon & Spa, The Little Store, and Bruning’s Wine Cellar. Tickets at the gate the day of the event are $7 for adults, and $5 for seniors and youths.
The preview party will be held at the Dayton Art Institute on Friday, Sept. 26 from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Advance tickets are $45 for members of the museum, and $60 for non-members. Tickets at the gate are $80. Preview Party is 21+.

The Lederhosen Lunch will be held at the Dayton Art Institute on Friday, Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. This event is free of charge.

 

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at josherlumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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