When Mayor John Cranley announced there would be no Riverfest in 2020 because of the pandemic, he hinted organizers of another major Cincinnati event, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, were rethinking the annual festival. The event will go forward; here's how:
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati - billed as the second largest Oktoberfest in the world - will span 10 days, Sept. 18-27, taking place across the region and in people's homes.
"As the Zinzinnati event will be held across the entire Zinzinnati region and Munich's event is not happening in 2020, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati 2020 is taking it upon itself to assume the title of World's Largest Oktoberfest," says Cynthia Oxley, event director, in a statement.
"We ... didn't want to cancel the event outright and didn't want to completely go virtually," says Lori Salzarulo, senior events manager for Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
Instead, the festival is divided into two options: participating restaurants bars and breweries, and what organizers are calling Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in Za Haus. People who want to enjoy the typical Oktoberfest treats can order do-it-yourself packs to put together a celebration at home. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati bands will spread out across the region to to "Polka Pop Ups" in neighborhoods.
"We'll have smaller versions of the bands, maybe three or four folks from a certain polka band, drive over and literally play outside of their car, far away, distanced from folks. It will be scheduled but they'll be hitting some neighborhoods to give some folks a little bit of a taste of some live music while they're safely on their front lawns or porches," says Salzarulo.
There will also be a full line-up of events that will take place virtually and in participating restaurants and bars. They include:
- Friday, Sept. 18 - Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Official Opening Ceremony including a special guest message
- Saturday, Sept. 19 - World's Largest Chicken Dance (done via Zoom)
- Friday, Sept. 25 – Samuel Adams Stein Hoist Challenge
- Saturday, Sept. 26 - World’s Largest Oktoberfest Toast & Prost led by Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams
- Every night, Sept. 18-27 - Singing of Ein Prosit with special guests
- Every night, Sept. 18-27 - Oktoberfest Zinzinnati live and virtual entertainment & performances