Oktoberfest has long been a tradition here in Columbus, and although each year’s celebration of German culture shows respect for that tradition, there’s always room for a few changes to the annual recipe.
The 2012 Columbus Oktoberfest, set for Sept. 28-30 at the Ohio Expo Center, will be no exception.
“This year, we will have a carver come in and create beer steins out of a big hunk of wood with a chainsaw,” says Geoff Schmidt, director of Oktoberfest and owner of Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus, which organizes the event. “We also have the National Cornhole Association coming to the festival. There will be a competition and they will select someone to go to the national cornhole competition in Cincinnati.”
Other competitions throughout the weekend include the cream puff eating competition, the four-mile Brat Trot race and the stone toss. The stone toss is an event where men and women attempt to throw 130-pound and 77-pound stones, respectively, as far as they can.
On tap for the weekend are three authentic German beers: Bitburger, Paulaner and Hofbrau.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people who get beer buy the German brews,” Schmidt says. “Ours are imported strictly from Germany.”
An array of food vendors will also be set up during the weekend to offer German cuisine – kraut, potato salad, feathered fries, potato pancakes, schnitzel and plenty more.
At least 20 bands are lined up to perform at the event, including Tommy Schober, 40-year veteran performer Hank Haller and the unique alternative band the Klabberheads.
“The Klabberheads are different because they are a bit more of a contemporary blend of German music,” Schmidt says. “They mix it up with their performances with some added flair. They have a lot of fun.”
More than 50 exhibitors will be on hand to offer guests unique, homemade crafts, such as jewelry, glass and metal sculptures, sporting items, candles, pottery, yard art, and gourmet food.
“In the middle, if you get tired of dancing to polka, we have our Marketplatz for shopping,” Schmidt says. “Also, everyone knows that we drink here, it’s in the nature of coming from Germany, so we tried to make it more family-friendly with the addition of the Kinderplatz. This is a designated area for kids with bouncy rides, arts and crafts and games. We want people to know they can come here with the whole family.”
The festival is about having fun and celebrating German heritage, but this year, the festival organizers are giving some of the proceeds to good cause.
“This is the first time we are able to donate to a charitable organization,” Schmidt says. “Proceeds will go to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, which distributes food all throughout Ohio.”
Oktoberfest is free and open to the public. In case of inclement weather, there is 100,000 square feet of indoor space that makes the festival an all-weather event.
Stephan Reed is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.