Your Guide to the Cincinnati Oktoberfest SeasonBack to feed
It’s that time of the year again! Summer is coming to a close (even though it’s still miserably hot outside), and it’s time for a new era of 2019! If you’re a Cincinnati native, you’re probably well aware of the season that is now upon us. It’s time for Oktoberfest, the wonderful Cincinnatian German-American mash-up that glorifies beer-drinking, exalts the humble Cincinnati mettwurst to sky-high adulation, and compels normally boring adults to run amok with chickens and weiner dogs perched upon their heads!
Oktoberfest is a time-honored tradition that was brought to Cincinnati by German immigrants. First held in 1976, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the main downtown party, is now one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in America! In fact, it’s the second-largest authentic Oktoberfest in the world, only ceding first place to the OG Oktoberfest celebration in Münich, which is where Oktoberfest first began in 1810. For the record, 2019 marks Münich’s 186th Oktoberfest (if you’re wondering why the math doesn’t add up, that’s because it was canceled some years due to war or plague). This year is Oktoberfest Zinzinnati’s 44th annual celebration. However, that’s just one festival. The cool thing about Cincinnati is that its prevalence of German heritage has resulted in an abundance of German organizations across the region, many of which hold their own Oktoberfests!
The good news: there’s always something fun going on during any given weekend of September. The bad news: it’s hard to pick which Oktoberfests to attend, which to ignore, and which to prioritize! But don’t worry! At Jungle Jim’s, we’re here for you. Since we’re Cincinnati’s resident food experts, we know what we’re talking about when it comes to huge German festivals celebrating food and beer! So, here’s our guide to Cincinnati’s Oktoberfests, including the best beers, the best foods, and the best bang for your buck.
When: Friday, September 27 through Sunday, September 29.
Where: Newport Festival Park, Riverboat Row, Newport, KY 41071
Why: Newport’s Oktoberfest is unique because it’s set up in the traditional style, just like the original Oktoberfest in Münich, with large tents housing food, entertainment, and beer all in one place. At the Münich Oktoberfest, there are 17 large and 21 small tents, with some of the larger tents containing as many as 10,000 seats! This is where the majority of the party happens, as the large festival tents contain bars where food and drink are served as well as entertainment and room for dancing. Smaller tents may not be all-inclusive, but usually contain a cafe, restaurant, or smaller bar area. At the Newport Oktoberfest, this traditional tent set-up is used to create an authentic Oktoberfest experience! This year, the festival has a great culinary line-up with bacon-wrapped goetta bites, classic cream puffs, and typical German foods like currywurst on the menu. If you’re looking for something to do that last weekend of September, head across the river and enjoy the best traditional-style Oktoberfest in the area!
Best in Beer
When: Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 6.
Where: Cincinnati Donauschwaben Society at 4290 Dry Ridge Rd, Cincinnati, OH. It’s in the Colerain Township area, just north of I-275 and west of State Route 27.
Why: Judging by reviews left by guests of previous years, many consider this to be the most authentic Oktoberfest celebration in the area. When you read the description on their website, it’s easy to see why. They boast over 25 beers on tap, so you can try something new every time you go back for a refill! The beer is definitely the draw at this festival, but they have fantastic food, as well. Plus, with this Oktoberfest occurring relatively late in the game, it doesn’t conflict with any of the other celebrations around Cincinnati!
How long: This festival is in its 27th year.
Admission: $3.00 per person. Children 12 years old or younger are free!
Best Free Festival
When: Friday, September 6 through Sunday, September 8.
Where: Goebel Park, 501 Philadelphia St, Covington, KY 41011.
Why: Visit the other side of the river for Covington’s annual Oktoberfest! This Kentucky Oktoberfest has been held in MainStrasse Village for over 40 years and is a Covington staple. Mainstrasse, the home of the festival, was revitalized in the 1970s to pay homage to the area’s German heritage and is now home to an assortment of German-style restaurants and shops. The area’s green space, Goebel Park, even features a 100-foot tall glockenspiel that plays an animatronic puppet show every hour. This festival is free to attend and is a Covington tradition that is dear to many. P.S. If you can’t make it to Oktoberfest, it’s worth mentioning that MainStrasse also hosts an annual Maifest, another German festival involving great beer and food. Maifest is traditionally held to celebrate the arrival of spring and usually happens in late May.
How long: In 2019, the MainStrausse Oktoberfest is celebrating its 41st year!
Best in Authenticity
When: Friday, August 23 through Sunday, August 25.
Where: Germania Society of Cincinnati, 3529 W Kemper Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45251
Why: We chose Germania Society’s Oktoberfest for “Best in Authenticity” because their popular Oktoberfest is actually the longest-running Oktoberfest in Cincinnati, beating Oktoberfest Zinzinnati by a full 5 years. Since the beginning, Germania has been dedicated to preserving Cincinnati’s German heritage, and that commitment shines through in their yearly Oktoberfest. At this year’s celebration, you’ll find over 60 taps, a huge assortment of authentic German foods, live music, carnival games and rides for the whole family, and shopping!
How long: 49th year!
Admission: $5.00 per adults. Children 12 and younger are free. Free parking!
When: Friday, September 20 through Sunday, September 22.
Where: Second and Thirds Streets, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Why: Coming in as one of the largest Oktoberfest in the world, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is a yearly downtown tradition that draws hundreds of thousands of attendees to “Zinzinnati.” Every year, the mayor of Münich makes an official declaration recognizing the Cincinnati Oktoberfest as the largest authentic celebration outside of Münich, and once you attend, it’s easy to see why. Many Cincinnatians are descendents of German immigrants and German traditions are still alive and well in Cincinnati! This unique heritage especially shines through in the many food and drink options available at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. The entertainment is great, too, with the always-adorable “running of the weiners” happening yearly on Friday, plus the world’s biggest chicken dance on Sunday. And, as of 2019, the first day of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati has officially been declared a Cincinnati holiday, so take the whole day off and explore out the festival!
How long: 44th year!
This year, take some time to attend one (or all!) of Cincinnati’s famous Oktoberfests and learn about the area’s rich German history! And, while you’re at it, enjoy some great food and beer! Here are Jungle Jim’s, we’ve also got some exciting Oktoberfest events in the works, including specially themed Pint Nights. We also carry the largest selection of specialty German foods in the area, and we make from-scratch German desserts in our bakery year-round! Stop by to shop your favorite German foods all month long and after the festivals are over!