German Oktoberfest is celebrated in the Milwaukee area during the first four weekends following Labor Day. The German themed fest is held in Heidelberg Park, in Glendale, about 90 miles north of Chicago, Illinois.
The oldest and most authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest in the Midwest is located just minutes north of downtown Milwaukee. The dates the festival is being held in 2013 include Sept. 6-7, 13-14. 20-21 and 27-28. The fest hours are Fri.(5-11 p.m.) and Sat. (3 p.m.-midnight). The fest is not open on Sun.
The trip to Milwaukee is a pleasant day trip, but since this event takes place in the evening/night, and the beer is available in abundance, a hotel stay may be advisable for visitors from the Chicago area.
Modeled after the famed Oktoberfest held in Munich, Germany, Milwaukee's celebration includes a selection of German beers, wine, German food, beer, German brass bands, Schuhplatter folk dancing, singing, yodeling, sing-alongs and dancing. The band starts up the famed beer drinking songs Ein Prosit and the crowd joins in, steins raised. The popular Chicken Dance gets the crowd moving several times each evening.
An abundance of German food is available, including broiled chicken dinner, Oktoberfest bratwurst, spanferkel (young pig spit roasted over an open pit), Rollbraten (sliced pork roast on a Kaiser roll), hot dogs, pretzels and sweet roasted almonds. For dessert, visit the booth that offers homemade cakes, tempting tortes and fruit strudel.
The Bavarian Fest Garten is the center of activity. Festival goers sit at long tables as the band plays. German dancing clubs take the dance floor to demonstrate the German folk dancing. The Bavarian Fest Garten is an Alpine style pavilion equipped with weather curtains on the open sides. While in the pavilion, try to take the time to enjoy the German scenes on the murals that line the high walls.
Arriving at the Fest, visitors browse past the food booths, the weingarten and the beer stands and select their refreshments. In addition to the seating in the pavilion, picnic tables and benches seat up to 2000 people under the trees in the Park. Situated right along the Milwaukee River the park offers green space and an area for children to play.
Oktoberfest is held at Heidelberg Park, on the grounds of the former Hans Bavarian Lodge, at 700 W. Lexington Blvd., Glendale, Wisconsin. The grounds are on the site of the former Hans Bavarian Restaurant in Glendale, Wisc. Oktoberfest and the Oktoberfest grounds are now run by the German Soccer Club, L.L.C..
Admission to Oktoberfest is $5 at the gate or $4 in advance. Free admission is offered on Fri. nights to Firefighters, Police, Active Duty Military and Veterans with ID.
There is free parking available on the grounds and nearby. Attendants are on hand to direct traffic. For additional information, see the Oktoberfest website.