By Jared Curtis
Annual event returns to where it all began
Throughout the summer months, the metro is jam packed full of weekly outdoor events, mostly involving adult beverages in some fashion. But once the weather gets colder, the outside events tend to dry up, which is why the 7th annual Oktoberfest event is the ideal time to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall.
“It’s the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer,” said Jeff Bruning, partner with Full Court Press (Hessen Haus, el Bait Shop, High Life Lounge, The Royal Mile), which co-sponsors the event.
The event originally started in front of Des Moines’ only German restaurant and Bier Hall, the Hessen Haus. But the event was moved to the parking lot of Principal Park. The event didn’t work out as organizers had hoped, so this year the event returns to its original location.
“We kept hearing from our customers that they wanted it back to the original place, so it just made sense to bring it back to the Hessen Haus,” Bruning said. “I think it’s more of a festive atmosphere in the downtown area instead of being spread out and wide open in a big lot.”
The celebration will take place on Fourth Street, which will be closed south of Court Avenue on Friday and Saturday to accommodate the event. Attendees can enjoy tented beer gardens, the region’s finest Polka bands, authentic German food, contests and more.
“We’re hoping for a big turnout,” Bruning said. “The most we’ve had over the course of two days is 12,000 people, but it all depends on the weather. We’ll be celebrating rain or shine.”
Some of the events taking place over the two days include live polka music throughout the weekend, polka dancing and demonstrations from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, authentic German food, bier gardens serving several varieties of German beer (16 varieties, 14 of which are German imports and the two domestic options) including a number served at the original Oktoberfest in Munich. There will also be an outside bar offering a number of options including ApfelKorn (a traditional German liqueur).
Along with the food and drinks, the Iowa Genealogical society will host a German Heritage informational booth and there will be prizes for attendees who dress in traditional German attire as well as a Bier Maiden contest on Friday night and a Wet Bier Gut contest on Saturday night.
“You don’t have to dress up, but it makes for a better time,” Bruning said. “Besides, if everyone dresses up it makes for a overall fun event.”
The celebration officially kicks off at 4 p.m. on Friday when the Golden Keg is tapped. Free beer is offered (until it runs out) for all in attendance for a giant group toast.
“It’s a perfect way to kick things off,” Bruning said. “The entire event is fun, but if you can get there at 4 p.m., the tapping of the Golden Keg is a great way to start your weekend.”
Closing the event on Saturday night will be Lady Hardon from Minneapolis, which consists of a pair of Siamese Lederhosen-clad women who play their versions of 30 polka songs in 30 minutes.
“That’ll be a terrific way to end the event,” Bruning said. “It’ll be interesting to hear their interpretations of that many songs in that short amount of time.”
Organizers are hoping for record turnouts, so come out and celebrate the fall season with good friends, tasty food and plenty of beer.
“It’s a great celebration with a tailgating type atmosphere,” Bruning said. “Besides, who doesn’t like drinking beer outside in the cool breeze, listening to some good music?” CV
Caption: Attendees cheers their beers to Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest 2010 takes place Sept. 24-25 on 4th Street and Court Avenue (in front of the Hessen Haus). Admission is $10 and includes a commemorative mug (bring it back on Saturday and get in free) and one drink ticket.