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Oktoberfest Zinzinnati 2022 to feature new food, beer and — finally — the option to pay with plastic

Bill Rinehart
Sam Adams Head Brewer Chris Siegman, (left), Chamber President Brendon Cull, and Events Manager Spencer Mapes, (right), drink a toast at an Oktoberfest Zinzinnati preview announcement, September 12, 2022.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is billed as the largest German heritage festival of its kind in the United States. The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber estimates more than 700,000 people attended the three-day event in 2021, after the event was shuttered by COVID the previous year. Chamber President Brendon Cull says there's a reason the Cincinnati party draws so many people.

“There is heritage and culture here. It’s real, it’s not manufactured. And I think people are looking for authentic experiences all of the time. So when they come to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and they taste the Sam Adams beer, and they eat Mick Noll’s food, this is real. This isn’t some imitation that you’re going to find in the middle of nowhere that isn’t real German food.”

Sam Adams, owned by the Boston Brewing Company, is brewed in Cincinnati. Mick Noll is from Covington Haus, on Mainstrasse.

In addition to familiar brands, there will be some new treats this year. Event Manager Spencer Mapes says one-third of the 32 food vendors are new.

“A lot of restaurants aren’t typically German restaurants, but they’re putting a German spin on their menu items,” he says.

Mapes says beer is still an important part of the festival. “Over 100 different styles of beer will be slinging at Oktoberfest. We have about 30-plus different breweries.”

There will be one major change this year. Cull says you'll be able to buy beer and food with plastic.

“We are so excited. People are pumping their arms. They’re cheering. It’s the number one piece of feedback we’ve gotten over and over and over again," he says. "Every beer booth, every soda booth … will have two credit card readers to be able to purchase your beer and any other drink that you want.”

Cull says there will still be ATMs on site, as some booths may remain cash only.

He would not identify who will be leading this year's chicken dance. He says they'll release that closer to the event.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati opens Friday, Sept. 16, with the Running of the Wieners, a race between about 100 dachshunds.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio in markets including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.