21 Weird Traditions Only True Cincinnatians Will Understand

Cincinnati has plenty of traditions that are a little on the quirky side, whether they’re German-inspired, bier-fueled antics or something entirely unique to the city. Only true residents can truly appreciate these often odd experiences.   
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Encountering goats, Sausage Queens and plenty of beer at Bockfest
German monks used to drink bock beer instead of food during the Lenten fast. And while many folk may hesitate to spend 40 days ingesting nothing but alcohol (though, if that’s your jam, we certainly aren’t judging), you can still get a taste of the monastery tradition at Cincinnati’s annual Bockfest, a weekend-long fest that honors both beer and the coming of spring. It kicks off with a Friday parade led by a goat pulling a keg and the reigning Sausage Queen — a gender-neutral pageant-winner honored for their personality, presence and talent (the only real requirement is the ability to carry a symbolic tray of bockwurst). The rest of the weekend’s activities include historic brewery tours, beer drinking, the Sausage Queen/Beard Baron finals, live music, a 5k and plenty of German food.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Encountering goats, Sausage Queens and plenty of beer at Bockfest

German monks used to drink bock beer instead of food during the Lenten fast. And while many folk may hesitate to spend 40 days ingesting nothing but alcohol (though, if that’s your jam, we certainly aren’t judging), you can still get a taste of the monastery tradition at Cincinnati’s annual Bockfest, a weekend-long fest that honors both beer and the coming of spring. It kicks off with a Friday parade led by a goat pulling a keg and the reigning Sausage Queen — a gender-neutral pageant-winner honored for their personality, presence and talent (the only real requirement is the ability to carry a symbolic tray of bockwurst). The rest of the weekend’s activities include historic brewery tours, beer drinking, the Sausage Queen/Beard Baron finals, live music, a 5k and plenty of German food.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Eating every goetta concoction known to man at Glier’s Goettafest
Goetta, a German-inspired sausage and pinhead oat mixture, is one of the only foods that might be more of a Cincinnati staple than our chili. Glier’s Goettafest is where Cincinnatians and goetta-devotees from across the nation can celebrate their favorite breakfast food by enjoying it in a variety of creative ways. Think goetta donut sandwiches, goetta brownies, goetta mac and cheese… the list goes on. Attendees can expect live music, games, plenty of food and even a goetta vending machine. And for the first time ever, this year's fest took over the Newport riverfront for two full weekends: July 25-28 and Aug. 1-4. 
Photo: Holden Mathis

Eating every goetta concoction known to man at Glier’s Goettafest

Goetta, a German-inspired sausage and pinhead oat mixture, is one of the only foods that might be more of a Cincinnati staple than our chili. Glier’s Goettafest is where Cincinnatians and goetta-devotees from across the nation can celebrate their favorite breakfast food by enjoying it in a variety of creative ways. Think goetta donut sandwiches, goetta brownies, goetta mac and cheese… the list goes on. Attendees can expect live music, games, plenty of food and even a goetta vending machine. And for the first time ever, this year's fest took over the Newport riverfront for two full weekends: July 25-28 and Aug. 1-4.
Photo: Holden Mathis
Setting up camp at 6 a.m. along the flood wall to watch the WEBN Fireworks
Launched more than four decades ago to celebrate the 10th anniversary of radio station WEBN, this Labor Day bash officially signals the end of summer with a series of colorful explosions in the sky. In addition to food, music, major traffic jams and one of the largest firework displays in the Midwest set to music from 102.7FM (you are 100-percent guaranteed to hear “Smoke on the Water”), festgoers can expect to see half a million other humans and a river full of boats. (People sometimes start setting up blankets a day early to claim primo space on both sides of the river.)
Photo: Riverfest

Setting up camp at 6 a.m. along the flood wall to watch the WEBN Fireworks

Launched more than four decades ago to celebrate the 10th anniversary of radio station WEBN, this Labor Day bash officially signals the end of summer with a series of colorful explosions in the sky. In addition to food, music, major traffic jams and one of the largest firework displays in the Midwest set to music from 102.7FM (you are 100-percent guaranteed to hear “Smoke on the Water”), festgoers can expect to see half a million other humans and a river full of boats. (People sometimes start setting up blankets a day early to claim primo space on both sides of the river.)
Photo: Riverfest
Seeing costumed dachshunds run real fast during the annual Running of the Wieners
Considered the kickoff event to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the race happens in September. Each dachshund, dressed in a hot dog costume, races 75 feet from the starting line to their owner. Then, the winning dog of each 10-dog heats races in one last race to determine real winner (or wiener, buh dum). First, second and third place prizes are awarded. It costs to participate, but it’s free to watch.
Photo: Emerson Swoger

Seeing costumed dachshunds run real fast during the annual Running of the Wieners

Considered the kickoff event to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the race happens in September. Each dachshund, dressed in a hot dog costume, races 75 feet from the starting line to their owner. Then, the winning dog of each 10-dog heats races in one last race to determine real winner (or wiener, buh dum). First, second and third place prizes are awarded. It costs to participate, but it’s free to watch.
Photo: Emerson Swoger
Getting real weird and real patriotic at the Northside Fourth of July Parade
Northside takes the Fourth of July very seriously, having hosted a carnival and parade in some form since the 1980s. The annual Northside Fourth of July Parade is an all-out celebration of independence, community, small business and individuality. Expect to see creative handmade floats from vintage stores, bars and community organizations; local marching bands; drill teams; every local politician you’ve ever heard of; ladies dancing with lawn chairs; guys dancing with power tools; and other unexpected and delightful displays of pride and spirit.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Getting real weird and real patriotic at the Northside Fourth of July Parade

Northside takes the Fourth of July very seriously, having hosted a carnival and parade in some form since the 1980s. The annual Northside Fourth of July Parade is an all-out celebration of independence, community, small business and individuality. Expect to see creative handmade floats from vintage stores, bars and community organizations; local marching bands; drill teams; every local politician you’ve ever heard of; ladies dancing with lawn chairs; guys dancing with power tools; and other unexpected and delightful displays of pride and spirit.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Eating entirely too much food at the Taste of Cincinnati
It’s a long weekend stuffed with the most delicious food the city has to offer. Over 50 of Cincinnati’s best restaurants take over Fifth Street for the oldest free culinary festival in the nation. Visitors savor their food alongside live performances spread across five stages and other tasty entertainments.
Photo: Holden Mathis

Eating entirely too much food at the Taste of Cincinnati

It’s a long weekend stuffed with the most delicious food the city has to offer. Over 50 of Cincinnati’s best restaurants take over Fifth Street for the oldest free culinary festival in the nation. Visitors savor their food alongside live performances spread across five stages and other tasty entertainments.
Photo: Holden Mathis
Watching the brave souls race in the Cardboard Boat Regatta
Cardboard and water are not the most perfect pair (Pennywise taught us that). Their union tends to end up creating a soggy, pulpy brownish mess. But the Cardboard Boat Museum in New Richmond, Ohio flies in the face of that logic. The city is home to the International Cardboard Boat Regatta, which takes place every August. Teams of one to 10 intrepid humans build boats out of cardboard and assorted other supplies and race down the Ohio River to win awards in categories like fastest boat, most creative design, peoples’ choice and the Titanic Award for the most dramatic sinking. The Cardboard Boat Museum chronicles the history of this unusual race through photos and displays. See replicas of a Delta Queen steamboat, a John Deere tractor, a Viking ship and other cardboard creations or take a class on building a vessel to orchestrate your own spectacular sinking.
Photo via Great Cardboard Boat Regatta Facebook

Watching the brave souls race in the Cardboard Boat Regatta

Cardboard and water are not the most perfect pair (Pennywise taught us that). Their union tends to end up creating a soggy, pulpy brownish mess. But the Cardboard Boat Museum in New Richmond, Ohio flies in the face of that logic. The city is home to the International Cardboard Boat Regatta, which takes place every August. Teams of one to 10 intrepid humans build boats out of cardboard and assorted other supplies and race down the Ohio River to win awards in categories like fastest boat, most creative design, peoples’ choice and the Titanic Award for the most dramatic sinking. The Cardboard Boat Museum chronicles the history of this unusual race through photos and displays. See replicas of a Delta Queen steamboat, a John Deere tractor, a Viking ship and other cardboard creations or take a class on building a vessel to orchestrate your own spectacular sinking.
Photo via Great Cardboard Boat Regatta Facebook
Partaking in the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, every damn year
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is the nation’s largest feier of authentic German food, music and beer with an estimated 575,000 festgoers each September eating an estimated 87,542 metts, 400 pickled pigs feet and 64,000 sauerkraut balls, among other gluttonous activities. Odd traditions include the majestic Running of the Wieners dachshund races, brat-eating competitions and the world’s largest Chicken Dance, which has been led by celebrities like Weird Al Yankovic, Nick and Drew Lachey and George Takei. 
Photo via facebook.com/oktoberfestzinzinnati

Partaking in the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, every damn year

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is the nation’s largest feier of authentic German food, music and beer with an estimated 575,000 festgoers each September eating an estimated 87,542 metts, 400 pickled pigs feet and 64,000 sauerkraut balls, among other gluttonous activities. Odd traditions include the majestic Running of the Wieners dachshund races, brat-eating competitions and the world’s largest Chicken Dance, which has been led by celebrities like Weird Al Yankovic, Nick and Drew Lachey and George Takei.
Photo via facebook.com/oktoberfestzinzinnati
Cheering, partaking in or avoiding the Flying Pig Marathon
The flying pig is a ubiquitous Cincinnati symbol, evoking the animal that earned the city its nickname: "Porkopolis.” But for one weekend a year, the flying pig stands for working off pounds, not putting them on. Created in 1997, the Flying Pig Marathon draws people from around the world to make it through a 26.2-mile urban course at their own speed. The race, which winds through Cincinnati, Covington, Newport, Mariemont, Fairfax and Columbia Township, is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and sees upward of 40,000 participants annually.  
Photo: Kellie Coleman

Cheering, partaking in or avoiding the Flying Pig Marathon

The flying pig is a ubiquitous Cincinnati symbol, evoking the animal that earned the city its nickname: "Porkopolis.” But for one weekend a year, the flying pig stands for working off pounds, not putting them on. Created in 1997, the Flying Pig Marathon draws people from around the world to make it through a 26.2-mile urban course at their own speed. The race, which winds through Cincinnati, Covington, Newport, Mariemont, Fairfax and Columbia Township, is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and sees upward of 40,000 participants annually.
Photo: Kellie Coleman
Watching dressed-up doggos strut their stuff in the Mount Adams Reindog Parade
Dog = man’s best friend. Reindeer = Santa’s transportation. Dogs dressed up as reindeer = freakishly adorable. Parading your dressed-up best friend for all to see? Now that’s what the Christmas season is all about. The Mount Adams Reindog Parade, which happens every year in December, has given pooch owners a chance to do just that for 30 years. Prizes are awarded to the best small dog (25 pounds and smaller), best large dog (over 25 pounds), best group dogs and best dog and owner look alike.
Photo: Emerson Swoger

Watching dressed-up doggos strut their stuff in the Mount Adams Reindog Parade

Dog = man’s best friend. Reindeer = Santa’s transportation. Dogs dressed up as reindeer = freakishly adorable. Parading your dressed-up best friend for all to see? Now that’s what the Christmas season is all about. The Mount Adams Reindog Parade, which happens every year in December, has given pooch owners a chance to do just that for 30 years. Prizes are awarded to the best small dog (25 pounds and smaller), best large dog (over 25 pounds), best group dogs and best dog and owner look alike.
Photo: Emerson Swoger