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Eat, drink and be German


Seasoned Oktoberfest Zinzinnati patrons celebrate with their stomachs

Bottom line: It's all about food. And beer.


By Jim Knippenberg

The Cincinnati Enquirer

And when it's time to rest, a thundering oom-pah under a big white party tent.

The 28th annual Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, world's largest outside of the original in Munich, kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday with close to 40 food vendors dishing up everything from brats, metts, sauerkraut balls and limburger cheese to filet mignon sandwiches, sweet potato casseroles, cream puffs and funnel cakes at prices running from $1 for an unadorned hot dog to $15 for Servatii's Huge Sesame Pretzel that feeds, well, a crowd.

Twenty beer booths will pour everything from the domestic - Miller, Budweiser, Sam Adams, BarrelHouse specialty brews - to more exotic imports.

It can be overwhelming.

How do you know where to start on five city blocks packed with treats? Let's try to simplify things with some tips from veterans of the first 27 Oktoberfests.

Food picks

Based on a highly unscientific poll, here are the 10 best-selling Oktoberfest foods.

Kartoffle Nester: Those are the long, wonderfully greasy strands of ultra thin sliced potatoes. They're $4 from Alpine Hut, booth No. 36.

Potato Pancakes: What can we say? You squash the potatoes, slap 'em on a well-oiled griddle and dive in. They're two for $3 from Wertheim's, booth No. 110.

Black Forest Cheesecake: Even people who don't like sweets eat the rich, creamy concoction. $3 from Servatii's, booth No. 114.

Super Bratwurst: It's almost a foot long, grilled fairly dark and served with all the usual condiments - kraut, mustard, ketchup, even horseradish. $4 from Mick Noll's Covington Haus, booth No. 306.

Sauerkraut balls: They're the real deal - a wad of sauerkraut, lightly breaded and deep-fried. Good "strolling" food. $4 from Black Forest, booth No. 320.

Pork BBQ Sandwich: Well, the pork part's German, but the BBQ part is kinda Southern and a whole lot tangy. $3 from Eddie's BBQ, booth No. 608.

Zoomer Mett: It's the bratwurst's spicier cousin, a deep red sausage loaded up with spices and grilled. $4 from Strasse Haus, booth No. 610.

Izzy's Famous Rueben: Corned beef, lots of kraut, Russian dressing on light rye bread. $5 from Izzy's Platz, booth No. 612.

Jumbo Cream Puff: They almost fill the whole plate. Not easy to eat, but everyone buys one. $4 from Schmidt's of German Village, booth No. 714.

Grilled Goetta Sandwich: A true Cincinnati - and German - favorite. The spicy oats and pork concoction is best on rye bread with a whisper of ketchup. $3 from Goetta - Over Here! booth No. 514.

Veteran vendors

Oktoberfest vendors come and go, but there's a core who have been there since the beginning, including three Germanic gents. Say hello to them and check out their menus:

Mick Noll: The Covington Haus owner also has been part of the MainStrasse Oktoberfest since the beginning. Here's what he'll be serving out of booth No. 306:

Super bratwurst, $4

Smoked mettwurst, $3

Hot Dog, $1.50

Potato pancake, $1

Goetta balls, $3

George Fraundorfer: Owner of Black Forest Restaurant in West Chester Township, he's the real deal: German born and still carrying his Bavarian accent. Oh, and he never appears at Oktoberfest without his lederhosen. He's in booth No. 320 and serving:

Oktoberfest chicken, $7

Bratwurst, $3

Mettwurst, $3

Potato pancake, $1.50

German egg roll, $2.50

Sauerkraut balls, $4

Sal Wertheim: Onwer of Wertheim's German restaurant in Covington, he'll be bringing his tried and true favorites:

Jumbo mettwurst, $3

Jumbo bratwurst, $3

Ruben roll, $2.50

Potato pancakes, 2 for $3

Kentucky silk pie, $3

Cheesecake on a stick, $3

The brew

Sure, all your domestic faves are there. But it's Oktober, so try something imported.

Spaten: This brewery will be pouring hefe-weizen, a wheat beer; German lager, the lightest they have on tap; Oppimator, a dark beer the distributor says "will kick your butt;" and a specially brewed amber Oktoberfest beer.

Konig Ludwig: Two offerings, both brewed outside Munich in Prince Ludwig's castle. The Konig Ludig is a fairly light wheat beer; the Oktoberfest is a little darker, a little heavier.

Warsteiner: Like the ad slogan says, life's too short for cheap beer. With that in mind, the brewery will be pouring a basic clear amber pilsner and the very popular Dunkel, a dark, medium heavy beer.

When: 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. The Lowenbrau World's Largest Chicken Dance, led by rocker Eddie Money, is at 4 p.m. Sunday on Fountain Square.

Where: Five blocks along Fifth Street, between Race and Broadway.


Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati was founded in 1976 as a block party near historic Fountain Square to attract visitors Downtown and to celebrate Cincinnati's deep German heritage. Since its humble beginnings, the event has grown to be recognized as North America's largest Oktoberfest, attracting 500,000 annually. This is the event's 25th year.

Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati showcases the rich German heritage of Southwestern Ohio, as well as tasty samples of German-style music, food and beer. Approximately 1,700 volunteers contribute their time and energy to stage the event.

In 1994, the Crown Prince of Bavaria attended Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati and helped the event set a world record for the World's Largest Chicken Dance, with 48,000 participating. Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati held the world record in the Guinness Book of Records, 1995-97 editions.

In 1998 Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati tuned up to set a world record for the World's Largest Kazoo Band. The late great trumpeter Al Hirt, a 1941 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, returned to his musical roots to lead 25,000 in a magical interpretation of his trademark song, When The Saints Go Marching In.

And in 1999 Grammy Award-winning Weird Al Yankovic led 30,000 on kazoo in a rendition of the Chicken Dance and Beer Barrel Polka. The event was featured on CNN Headline News and VH1's "Rock-n-Roll Record-breakers."

The 2000 Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16 and 17, on five blocks of Fifth Street - stretching from RaceStreet and historic Fountain Square to Broadway in Downtown Zinzinnati. The hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati is staged by The Downtown Council, a division of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the City of Cincinnati and numerous German-American organizations.

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Guest donaltopablo

Awesome. How have I never heard of this before? Guess next year I'm taking a drive to Cinncy for Oktoberfest.

I love these things. We have a pretty nice one in the phony alpine village of Helen, GA. It's a lot of fun in this German influenced town and the best part, it runs all month.

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