What better way to celebrate a town built — literally and figuratively — with German hands, a town whose living testimonials to its old-world roots include the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Findlay Market and a great brewing industry, than to transform several downtown blocks into a Bavarian village once a year?
The occasion is Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, and in its 29th it's become the biggest, best annual festival in Greater Cincinnati. If only because it takes one theme and carries it through, it surpasses May's Taste of Cincinnati as the coolest reason to walk around downtown with an open container of alcohol. Best of all, you don't have to be German to enjoy it. But it does help if you like a good German brew.
Oktoberfest has beer by the barrelful. While national brands are there, you can also find authentic suds like Warsteiner, local-product Christian Moerlein and Spaten/Franziskaner Weisse. But beer is only half of the appeal. OK, three-quarters of it. There's also food aplenty. Festival officials estimate that over 80,000 brats, 64,000 sauerkraut balls and 702 pounds of Limburger cheese are sold each year at Oktoberfest. Let's all say a quick thank you to the festival creators for making this an outdoor event.
And lest you wonder why in the world the city would celebrate Oktoberfest in September, there's good reason. Munich's festival, the model for our event, is always celebrated during the third full weekend in September. But since their festival lasts two weeks, it serves as a lead-in to the month of October. With just a two-day event here, Cincinnatians get a couple of weeks to shake the hangover before the new month begins.
Getting to wear lederhosen, hoist steins and eat strudel once a year in downtown without fear of repercussion — that is soooo Zinzinnati.
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