The countdown is almost over. The smell of brats, sauerkraut, pretzels, and funnel cake is wafting through the air. It’s time for beer stein races and cute skinny dogs. One of Cincinnati’s premier events is starting this weekend. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is slated to run September 18-20 in the downtown area. German food, live dancing, and tons of fun are on tap for the long-running festival.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is the largest celebration in the country. It’s held annually along Fifth Street and showcases the rich and colorful German heritage of Cincinnati. Started in 1976, the event has exploded into the largest Oktoberfest celebration in America. The festival easily draws 500,000 revelers each year.
The madness that is Oktoberfest officially kicks off with the Running of the Wieners. If you don’t know what that means, picture a dachshund, blanketed in a hot dog bun, slathered with mustard or ketchup, running to avoid embarrassment. In other words, think Running of the Bulls with toy dogs.
The fun doesn’t stop with the wiener dogs. No trip to the Queen City’s Oktoberfest is complete without strutting your stuff and participating in the Chicken Dance. Doing this weird but frighteningly fun dance is what sets Oktoberfest Zinzinnati apart from the rest of the celebrations. Thousands of people have gathered since 1994, when the Cincinnati festival broke the record for people flapping their wings, er, arms like a chicken.
The Grand Marshal for Oktoberfest festivities this year is former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson. Each year a new celebrity is chosen to flap their arms and wiggle their tush. Past Marshals include Nick and Drew Lachey and Star Trek’s George Takei, among other notable names.
Adding Friday nights to the festival three years ago has helped with attendance figures. Those leaving work downtown are able to drop by Oktoberfest before they decide to make their way home. Who can ignore the smell of German food like sauerkraut, goetta, and rotisserie chicken grilled over an open fire pit? Need I say more?
Not only will there be food, there will be tons of rides and music. A new addition to the merriment will be Brewer’s Alley. It will showcase 40 craft and specialty beers. Ten of those beers will be from local breweries in the tri-state area.
Need more? The Bengals will be hosting the Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium. Take in an NFL game and flow out onto the streets of downtown Cincinnati. The party won’t stop until the hops stop flowing and the rides are turned off.
So grab your lederhosen, polish your polka moves, and come chomp on some schnitzel. The wiener dogs are waiting to greet you.
[Photo by Mike Simons / Getty Images]