The concept of a German Luau may sound like a mash-up of disparate events, but this Hawaiian-Bavarian block party has long been a legend in St. Bernard.
And it's back Aug. 5 and 6 with a pig roast, live entertainment, games and literal buckets filled with beer.
The neighborhood first launched its German Luau in 1971, and the popular annual festival ran through 1984. It blended Cincinnati's German heritage with what Marge Niesen of the St. Bernard-Ludlow Grove Historical Society calls the "spirit of Hawaiian hospitality" in a release.
It was a formula for success, and drew huge crowds.
“We couldn’t believe how many people showed up,” former St. Bernard Mayor Charlie Vonder Muele says in a release of one of the first luaus. “I was standing on the hill overlooking Vine Street Park, and it was just this mass of people, a lot of them drinking beer from the buckets that held a bit more beer than the mugs you get at festivals nowadays. It was a great time."
But it got too big. The German Luau was canceled after the 1984 event when they couldn't find enough volunteers to operate the party, according to the St. Bernard Recreation Department.
Then, when Wiedemann's Fine Beer opened its taproom in the neighborhood in 2018, it "sparked interest in reviving the German Luau as a community celebration," per a release. The German Luau relaunched in 2019 and is now back as an annual party.
This year, the two-day festival kicks off with a keg tapping of Wiedemann's Luau Brau in front of St. Bernard City Hall at 5 p.m. Friday and events continue through Saturday.
Vine Street between Washington and McClelland avenues will be closed to traffic so attendees can enjoy Wiedemann’s beer, served in the fest's original-style German Luau beer pails (or in tumblers, steins or cups), along with a variety of other events.
In addition to the pig roast, there will be food trucks and food booths, plus games and a celebrity dunking booth. On Saturday night, there will be a luau-themed dog costume contest. And bands DJ Wild Bill, Klaberheads, The SunBurners and Pandora Effect will play through the weekend.
The German Luau takes place 5 p.m.-midnight Aug. 5 and 3 p.m.-midnight Aug. 6 along Vine Street in St. Bernard.
For more information and to see some historic German Luau photos, visit facebook.com/stbgermanluau.