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

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Since 1972, the Dayton Art Institute's Oktoberfest, has been untapped for the community.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Dayton tradition was established in 1971.

Oktoberfest, the Miami Valley’s celebration of art and beer, is on tap for the 50th year.

Octoberfest 1978
Octoberfest 1978

The event, cancelled last year due to the pandemic, has been a tradition since 1971.

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.

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.

In 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.

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Jack Longstreth (left) and Tom Shulman at Octoberfest in 1975. DAYTON DAILY NEWS/ WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVE
Jack Longstreth (left) and Tom Shulman at Octoberfest in 1975. DAYTON DAILY NEWS/ WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND 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.”

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.

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.”

HOW TO GO

What: Dayton Art Institute's Oktoberfest

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

When: Sept. 24-26. Oktoberfest hours for Saturday, Sept. 25 are noon to 11:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 26, noon to 7 p.m.

A Lederhosen Lunch and the Preview Party will be held Friday, Sept. 24.

More information can be found on the museum’s website.