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In-Person Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Returns To Downtown Cincinnati

Bill Rinehart
Beer might not be the only part of Oktoberfest, but it is a pillar of the festival.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is returning, after a COVID-canceled year. The German heritage party typically attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Downtown Cincinnati over a three-day weekend, but organizers like the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Brendon Cull says they don't know how big the crowds will be this year. He says the Chamber has looked at the attendance numbers from other outdoor festivals.

"Some of them have been way up, because people miss it. They want to be back together," Cull says. "I think it's going to be a great Oktoberfest. We've got two blocks full of room. You can walk around. People will be safe. We're even thinking about having a vaccine clinic."

Cull says in the meantime, the Chamber is still encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

"If you're making the decision to come down, we're going to put together a safe event where you can walk around and drink beer. Everybody has their own kind of risk assessments, and we encourage folks to think about that, but being outside is probably the safest thing you can do. We learned that last year before we even had vaccines."

Cull says they believe people are ready to party again.

He says the Chamber doesn't have estimates on how many people will attend, but he knows it will attract people from outside the region. "We are working with one group that's like 100 people and they usually travel to Munich. They're coming in this year to Cincinnati," he says. "We're hosting them; we're going to make a big deal out of the fact they're choosing Cincinnati. We're confident that they'll stay in Cincinnati, they'll say 'Munich? Never mind. We'll stay in Cincinnati from now on.' "

Munich usually has the world's largest Oktoberfest celebration, but has canceled again this year, because of COVID.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati starts on Thursday, Sept. 16, a day earlier than normal. Cull says that's to make up for missing last year. He says the festival will be open until midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Last year, the Chamber encouraged people to celebrate Oktoberfest Zinzinnati at home and in smaller celebrations across the region.

Cull says everything starts at noon, Thursday, with dachshund racing. "This is on ESPN. This is all over national news. We make big news when we do the Running of the Wieners. We'll have a hundred of the region's fastest and furriest little dogs running up and down the event course. It's a great time."

The rest of the party starts later Thursday afternoon at 5.

Friday night, Cull says there's a new contest, the Frocktoberfest Socktoberfest Pageant. "Guests who are dressed to impress in their German best will want to enter this pageant," Cull says. "You see all people who come down to our events in dirndls and all the regalia. It's so much fun. We want people to do it this year in a big way, so we are going to have a contest. Wear your dirndl or your liederhosen."

The Stein Hoist competition, where contestants must hold a liter stein of beer, is on Sunday afternoon. The two winners will receive a trip for two to the 2022 Munich Oktoberfest.

The "world's largest chicken dance" is Saturday afternoon at 4.

Oktoberfest runs until midnight Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and until 9 Sunday night.