Grab the eye-catching lederhosen, don the dirndls and get ready to yodel, polka and experience gemütlichkeit at its finest – or, as they say in the old country, German cordiality. The two-day KC Oktoberfest, dubbed the “Munich of the Midwest,” is about to kick off, Oct. 1 and 2, in the epicenter of downtown’s entertainment district at Crown Center.
Hosted by Kansas City’s largest locally owned brewery, KC Bier Co, the event – modeled after the renowned Munich Oktoberfest in Germany – will feature all the trappings of an authentic Bavarian festival, without having to cross the Atlantic to experience it.
“This is a cultural experience that goes far beyond our bier,” said Cathy Holle, KC Oktoberfest event manager. “We brew our bier in the authentic German way, and we are doing the same with this event by making it a reflection of a true Bavarian Oktoberfest.”
From bier, wein and steins to pretzels, polka and schnitzel, Holle said participants can immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere either inside one of the large communal tents or at one of the multiple stages, vendor stands, the Bavarian Marketplace or the kids and family activity and game station, located throughout the event site. Guests can test their mettle in several classic German-style competitions that have proven to be annual favorites, including the Best Dressed Bavarian and the Hammerschlagen (“Hammer Strike”). The Masskrugstemmen, the infamous 1-liter stein holding contest, is the ultimate test of strength and endurance; competitors will follow the rules set forth by the U.S. Steinholding Association.
Entertainment runs the gamut from traditional to high-energy with the powerhouse Die Schlauberger and the well-oiled four-piece Polka Brothers to Polka on steriods, and Festhuas-Mustikanten, a German music folk band. Other groups include the Bavarski Band, comprised of a jazz organist, drummer, and opera and rock singers, as well as the St. Paul Lutheran High School Chamber Choir, “The Singing Saints,” who will sing songs in German from “The Sound of Music” including “Edelweiss.”
Oh, and the bier. Festival goers can explore six of the KC bier CO's critically acclaimed and award-wining German-style biers brewed from 100% German malt and hops using traditional recipes and brewing methods. Festbier, the official KC Oktoberfest bier, earned a 96 rating from bier Connoisseur Magazine and a #10 ranking on its list of the Best 100 biers of 2018. KC Oktoberfest will offer a white and red wine from German Vintner, Günther Schlink Weinhaus, from the Nahe Valley in southwest Germany. Schlink will also conduct wine samplings for visitors to experience an even wider range of their traditional wines.
A parade of flags representing the regions of Germany will kick off the festivities at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 1, immediately followed by the tapping of the first keg by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
This year, in deference to COVID-19 concerns, participants 12 and older will need to show proof of vaccination, or a negative Covid-19 test within 48 hours of admittance to the event. Children under the age of 12 must be masked when moving about and not able to social distance. Masks may be removed once seated, eating, drinking or arriving at their volunteer station. Handwashing stations will be located throughout the event space; sanitation wipes will also be available near all tables for patrons to use.
General admission ($10), “spezial” VIP ($55) tickets and reserved tables ($125-175) are available online, in advance or onsite. QR codes will allow for easy, contactless check-in. Souvenirs, mugs and festival T-shirts may also be purchased in advance or onsite.
So come October, lift a stein, and as they say in Germany – Prost!