Cover Story: Hot Food Fest

Goetta Load of the Tristate's New Festival

If you're a hot fan of goetta, you'll want to head to Goettafest this June in Covington's MainStrasse Village.

If you're not a fan, you're probably now asking, "Why a food festival devoted to the stuff?"

"Because it's never been done. There's nothing like it anywhere in the world," would be Artie Kidwell's response. Kidwell, who runs The Magic Shop in MainStrasse, is chairman of the first annual celebration devoted to all things goetta.

"Goetta is totally unique to Greater Cincinnati and just one particular area of Germany, up in the northeast quadrant," he says. "It's as unique to this city as is the style of chili we eat."

As scrapple is to Philadelphia, goetta is to Cincinnati. For the un-initiated, the German meat product (pronounced "get-uh") is a combination of steel-cut pinhead oatmeal, pork, beef and seasonings. The large influx of German immigrants who swarmed here in the 19th century introduced the fare, and we've been hooked ever since.

Among specialties offered at the festival will be goetta omelets, goetta pizza, goetta hoagies, goetta sausage, goetta burgers, goetta breakfast links, goetta balls and even a goetta taco.

Festival-goers can register for a grand prize of a year's free supply of, guess what, goetta. Live entertainment includes square dancing, dulcimer music, clogging, the crowning of a Goetta Queen and King, and more. Visitors can also jump over to the adjacent Summer Art Show on Sixth Street.

Oddly enough, Covington is the world capital of goetta. Glier's Goetta Co., the largest producer and an organizer of the festival (in conjunction with the MainStrasse Village Association), sells in excess of 1 million pounds a year.

It's primarily a homemade comfort food in Germany — to Kidwell's knowledge, no German food manufacturer produces it commercially over there. "We had a lot of people go to Germany and tell us nobody there had heard of the stuff," he says. "It's not manufactured as it is in Covington."

Lately Kidwell has been involved in trying out recipes as part of the recipe contest being held for the fest.

"I'm trying every recipe at home," he enthuses. "The goetta taco was the weirdest thing, but even it was good."

WHO: Goettafest. · WHEN: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. June 23. · WHERE: MainStrasse Village's Goebel Park, Covington. · TICKETS: Free. · INFO: 859-491-0458.

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