WORTH THE DRIVE: 7 reasons to head to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati this weekend

One of the world’s largest Oktoberfest is this weekend and luckily for us, it is right down the road. 

Thanks to our German heritage, Cincinnati's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is one of the biggest Oktoberfest parties in the world, with nearly 600,000 annual visitors, over 3,000 pounds of sauerkraut, nearly 2,000 pounds of potato salad, over 200,000 metts, brats, and sausages (altogether), and over 100 varieties of beer.

>> The best Oktoberfest celebrations around the region

Here's what to expect at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in 2018:  

Credit: submitted

Credit: submitted

The Food  

Thirty-three vendors will be hawking their German-style eats at Oktoberfest. New additions in 2018 include Che (German and apple strudel empanadas), Festival Fresh Popcorn (kettle, caramel, and sweet heat BBQ corn), Katzenjammer Haus (Reuben bratwurst, sauerkraut chowder, fried pumpernickel pickles), and Tickle Pickle (BBQ grippo goetta, frankfurter and burgers with sauerkraut).  

The usual favorites will also be present, including Servati's (Bavarian pretzels), McNoll's Covington Haus (brats, metts, curry wurst, goetta balls), Mecklenburg Gardens (Bavarian meatballs in cream sauce), and Izzy's (potato pancakes, cabbage soup).  

>> Your guide to fall festivals around the region

The Beer  

The comprehensive beer list was not released at press time. However, we can tell you that the Zinzinnati Craft Beer Garten will showcase Cincinnati breweries, with varieties from Sam Adams, Braxton, Fretboard, Taft's Ale House, Rhinegeist and MadTree.  

>> This Graeter's pumpkin pie beer will be available too!

World’s Largest Chicken Dance  

Many luminaries have served as Grand Marshal of the World's Largest Chicken Dance over the years. They've included movie stars (Verne Troyer), TV stars (George Takei), rock stars (Vince Neil), and local pro athletes (Andy Dalton and A.J. Green).  

This year, the Grand Marshal of the World's Largest Chicken Dance is the Cincinnati Zoo's Thane Maynard, a wildlife preservation expert who has hosted a nationally syndicated radio show and authored over a dozen books, including one about our own baby hippo, Fiona.

The Chicken Dance takes place on Sept. 23 at noon at the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Main Stage on Second and Elm Streets.  

Skystar  

At 150 feet tall, Skystar is the largest portable Ferris wheel in the U.S. Installed during Labor Day weekend on Freedom Way at the Banks, the Skystar will be available for Zinzinnati patrons to ride. The Skystar has 36 enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas that hold up to six passengers.

At night, the Skystar lights up the sky with one million colored LED lights.  

World Brat Eating Championship  

Joey Chestnut, the No. 1 competitive eater in the world, will defend his brat-eating title for the ninth time at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Last year, he ate 70 brats in 10 minutes. He'll be going up against nine other pro eaters, all ranked above No. 40 and two as high as No. 5 and No. 6. Watch him on Sept. 23 at 2 p.m.at the Braxton Fass Bar, located at Third and Walnut Streets.  

>> World hot-dog eating champ heading to town

The Running of the Wieners  

This popular annual Zinzinnati event features 100 dachshunds, each encased in a hot dog bun, racing a 75-foot heat. See who will be crowned "top dog" on Freedom Way between Walnut and Rosa Parks on September 21 at 11 a.m.  

Gemuetlichkeit (goodwill) Games, or G-Games  

Teams of TV celebrities will compete in several contests that's — kinda like the Olympics with an Oktoberfest twist. The games include a Beer Stein Race and a Beer Barrel Roll. See it on Sept. 21 at noon on Freedom Way between Walnut and Rosa Parks.  

When You Need To Take A Break…  

Of course, walking around all day is tiring, especially when you're eating and drinking at the same time. Not to worry. Zinzinnati has nine craft beer gardens where you can park your rear for a well-deserved rest. To keep you entertained in the meantime, each beer garden has its own stage of live entertainment. The Braxton Fass Bar will also have a 20-foot LED TV screen where you can catch up on weekend sports. 

WANT TO GO?  

What: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati 

When: Sept. 21-23. 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday  

Where: 2nd and 3rd Sts. between Elm and Walnuts Streets, downtown Cincinnati  

Cost: No admission cost  

More info: www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com

2009 Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Archive photo / Barry D. Scheffel

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