Last night I attended the opening of the Columbus Oktoberfest, held at the Ohio Expo Center.
When I arrived, the Meiler Vier (the fourth annual four-mile run that kickstarts the festivities) was in full swing. Folks were dressed in a variety of costumes or running gear. Once the race ended, I spoke to a trio wearing full-body beer bottle costumes. They said while it was a challenge to run a 4-mile race as a beer bottle, the rewards they snagged made it well worth the effort. Each participant walked away with an event t-shirt, medal, and a free beer plus a World Famous Sausage and Cream Puff.
Speaking of cream puffs, if you haven’t had a cream puff from Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus you need to pay a visit to their restaurant in German Village and get yourself one! They’re as big as your kid’s head and full of awesome creamy goodness.
The first line of business when arriving at Oktoberfest should of course be BEER. After working our way through the runners, my beer drinking companion and I headed into the Heidelberg Bier Hall to purchase 30 tickets each (plenty for a couple mugs of beer and a snack) then made a beeline for the Oktoberfest beer station. There was also a station for a regular domestic brand – but any true beer drinker would avoid anything you can easily snag in a 12-pack at a gas station – just sayin’!
Available Oktoberfest brews included choices from:
- Brooklyn Brewery
I went with the Brooklyn Oktoberfest beer to start, and I have to say it was quite tasty. It poured with a solid head, dark copper color and was very drinkable (I should know – the mugs sold at Oktoberfest are 32oz!).
The second beer I sampled was the Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier. It poured a pale gold with minimal head, and was lighter than the Brooklyn in body, crisp and smooth. I personally preferred the heavier malty taste of the Brooklyn, but you’ll just have to try them and decide for yourself! There were descriptions posted beneath each of the taps at the station, so you can read about each before you choose.
There was an array of delicious-smelling meats and decadent desserts available in both the Heidelberg Bier Hall and the Budweiser Prost Hall. Beer brats, Schlamager brats and even deep fried brats abounded. There were also choices of chicken, BBQ pork or ribs, steak on a stick or even fried German bologna.
I personally headed for the desserts and ended up scoring a wonderful pumpkin roll from All About The Zel’s, who were kind enough to give me the roll for 4 tickets instead of 5 (as I’d spent the rest on beer).
The Chicken Hats
Oktoberfest is an interesting mix of folks running around in costumes, peculiar hats, and engaged in general shenanigans. I for one, noticed vendors walking around selling an assortment of chicken hats. While I’m always up for a good hat purchase, I found them a bit over the top. However, a friendly gentleman noticed my interest and offered to go 50/50 on the cost if I would wear a chicken on my head the rest of the evening. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a challenge.
Overall, I’d say the Columbus Oktoberfest warrants a visit to sample the beers and do some interesting people (and costume) watching. It’s family- friendly, but a bit pricey. Parking costs $8 a car, although it’s free to enter the event. Beer you get for your buck is average, with a filled 32oz mug costing 15 tickets ($15), and refills costing 10 tickets. I’d recommend going with a group to carpool, and while there are two stages, games (such as cornhole) and other events, we found it to be a bit anticlimactic overall. Expect to create some of your own entertainment – such as waging bets about wearing chicken hats.
Oktoberfest runs through the weekend opening Saturday at noon and running until midnight, and is also open Sunday from noon until 8pm. To read all the details and for directions, you can visit the official Columbus Oktoberfest website.