Billed as the kick off event of the Oktoberfest season, the Germania Club’s Oktoberfest does not disappoint.
This 3 day fest is as authentically German as it can be. The addition of the new Biergarten is a gem – the large trees offer ample shade and a welcome respite to high temperatures. The main fairway offers several rides for the kids and lots of food booths. A great highlight is the rotisserie chicken – as tasty as in a Munich Tent.
The entertainment is also authentic. Several music venues are scattered about and we enjoyed the Prost and Klaberhead bands immensely. Both put on great shows that attracted good crowds and lots of energy. Throughout the day, various dance groups took the stage. The Enzian dancers were my favorite and put on the most authentic Schuplattler routine I’ve seen in the USA.
Thankfully there is a great beer selection. A chief sponsor is Warsteiner and their Lager, Dunkles and Oktoberfest was readily available. One location also offered Spaten and the clubhouse had König Ludwig Weißbier, Reisdorf Kölsch and even Jever. On top of that, a large Jägermeister presence was noted.
We had an amazing time and I got to reconnect with many friends and meet some new ones. On Friday night, we spent most of the evening in the new beer garden chatting with various folks. We tried the Mett sausages on sale there and they were quite tasty along with a Warsteiner Oktoberfest beer. Later, we went on a food run to grab the famous Sauerkraut balls. They really are famous and some people claim they come just for the Sauerkraut balls. Since they purportedly run out every year, I figured I better try some Friday night and I’m glad I did – they were awesome! We also tried the Potato Pancakes and an enormous dill pickle (my favorite thing to grab as a leave the “real” Wiesn).
On Saturday, we visited Jungle Jim’s supermarket – what a crazy place that was! We picked through the beer and wine selections real well and spent plenty of time in the German food section – there’s like 2 aisles of stuff. We loaded up on Ritter Sport, Bayrischer Blockmalz, and Salzige Heringe. I also found a Paulaner Oktoberfest 1 liter can packaged inside of a 1 liter glass Masskrug for $11.99 – what a bargain!
After the little shopping spree, we visited the Hofbraeuhaus Newport again. Once in the beer garden, I enjoyed the shade and a some Weissbier. We also had a snack here and the food was good. Being surrounded by Hofbraehaus regulars was great – we got extremely attentive and friendly service! I really do enjoy how the have created an authentic biergarten atmosphere and added some great touches inside. If you are even in the Cincinnati area, you just have to stop in! And, by the way, the same owner has just opened another one in Pittsburgh, PA.
Saturday evening, we donned our Lederhosen and made for the fest grounds at Germania. The big event was the official opening ceremonies where local TV personality, Sheila Gray, was anointed as official Bürgermeister after heated voting – 937.935 votes were cast! Since I’m a member of the Cincinnati Mustard Club, I got to don my yellow shirt and march along in the parade. Meanwhile, Chuck got to wheel in the keg on the club’s fancy new cart. The wooded keg was tapped and then all the VIP’s got to fill their glass. Right at the end, there was a bit more left over, so I was able to get my Masskrug on the spigot too! We got to see former BayernTrips alumns Myron and Pam for a short time and then we sat with a gang that hailed from Regensburg. We danced and sang along to the music of Prost - a great little party band.
Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. At first I couldn’t figure out why all the other guests were staring at me…I feel so at home in my Lederhosen, I often forget that many people have never seen this before. We went to mass at Old St. Mary’s downtown. This is the oldest Catholic Church in Ohio and is extremely beautiful. Each Sunday, masses are offered in English, Latin and German. We, of course, attended the German Mass. After the mass, Chuck and I helped carry in a few cases of Weissbier into the basement for Fruehschoppen. This too is an old German tradition whereby the members gather for food and drink after the service. People of all ages gather to socialize and its truly cross generational. Additionally, the Men’s choir usually bursts into song, including their signature rendition of “Ja wir wollen so gern einen heben.” Foillowing the Fruehschoppen, we returned one last time to the Hofbraeuhaus for lunch before going back to the festival.
Once at the festival, I helped Chuck with a stint in one of the beer booths and also passed out a ton of BayernTrips coasters to the folks in the biergarten – it was amazing how well received they were. Later, we sat in the Pavallion and enjoyed the music and antics of the Klaberheads before retreating to the clubhouse for one last round.
The Germania members are friendly and genuinely concerned that their guests have a great experience.This is a large fest filled with tradition. It’s always the last weekend of August and should be on every German-fan’s calendar!