Since 1972, Oktoberfest, the Dayton Art Institute’s largest fundraiser, has been untapped for the community.

Beer cost WHAT at the first Oktoberfest? What you should know about its boozy history

Oktoberfest, the Miami Valley’s celebration of art and beer, is on tap for the 49th year.

>> Insider’s Guide to Dayton Oktoberfest

A view of the Dayton Art Institute’s Oktoberfest in 1978. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

The event is the Dayton Art Institute’s largest fundraiser and was originally held in 1972. It was started by the DAI’s Associate Board to “encourage the community to have a fun weekend at its museum and have a chance to buy good art objects,” according to a Journal-Herald newspaper article from the time.

>>Ohio commemorates Dayton museum’s centennial with historical marker

While it began primarily as a community event intended to attract a diverse audience to the museum, the Associate Board’s intent was expansion. With the success of that first event, and its subsequent rapid growth, it quickly became an important fundraising event for the museum, according to DAI Director and CEO Michael Roediger. Today it takes nearly 2,000 volunteers to pull off the three-day event.


The first year 7,000 people attended and a glass of beer cost 10 cents. Receipts for admission and beer totaled $11,000. The funds raised now by Oktoberfest assist the DAI’s general operations.

>>The Dayton museum history you didn’t know: When there was a zoo at the art institute

Jack Longstreth (left) and Tom Shulman sell beer at the Dayton Art Institute’s Oktoberfest in 1975. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

Without those funds, “our programs and staffing would be cut significantly,” Roediger said. “Thank you to everyone who helps organize and support this important museum fundraiser every year. Oktoberfest is a wonderful community event, and the money raised helps support the DAI in so many ways throughout the year.”

>>One of the nation’s best Halloween events is back with new scares

Since its beginning in the 1970s, Oktoberfest has not only grown in numbers but expanded to a larger part of the grounds. Early Oktoberfest activities took place in the cloisters and in a garden where the contemporary gallery is now located. Today, scores of artisan exhibitors display and sell their work in sprawling tents in front of the museum.

>>3 reasons to head to Tipp City’s Mum Festival this weekend

Attending the event is a tradition for many families who have collected the commemorative beer steins created for the event since the late 1970s.

“The DAI’s Oktoberfest brings our community together to celebrate art, friendships and Dayton,” Roediger said. “The festival is a great opportunity for the community to get together and celebrate the museum and enjoy a beautiful weekend at one of the most gorgeous settings in town.”


What: Dayton Art Institute’s Oktoberfest

Where: The Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton

When: Sept. 27-29. Oktoberfest hours for Saturday, Sept. 28 are noon-11:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 29, noon – 7 p.m.

A Lederhosen Lunch will be held Friday Sept. 27, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and the Preview Party will be held from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Friday