Oktoberfest: A Zinzinnati delight

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati replaces Munich’s Oktoberfest as largest in the world

By tess Dankoski, Staff Writer

Cincinnati hosted the largest Oktoberfest in the world last weekend. From last Thursday afternoon to Sunday night, over 575,000 people flooded the downtown streets to eat German food, listen to German music and drink copious amounts of beer. 

Every year since the first “Oktoberfest Zinzinnati” in 1976, Cincinnati has earned the title of largest Oktoberfest in the country, due to the city’s massive population of German immigrants. This year, because the original festival in Munich, Germany was canceled, Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest was the world’s largest.

The tradition began in Munich in 1810 as a celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage. Ludwig was the prince of Bavaria, a formerly independent state that is now a province in Germany. Everyone in the city was invited to the five-day celebration of the prince’s marriage, which included horse races, music and drinks.

 In the years that followed, the tradition has ballooned into the annual celebration of German culture known as Oktoberfest. Over six million people from countries around the world attend the 16-day event. By the end of the festival, patrons guzzle down roughly two million gallons of beer.

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati featured fun events such as “The World’s Largest Chicken Dance” and the “Running of the Wieners” (a race among dachshunds). The event featured live traditional German music, food and beer.

Aiden Dyer, a first-year psychology major, lived in Germany for six years before coming to Xavier. While living in Germany, he attended the original Oktoberfest twice.

“Germans take Oktoberfest extremely seriously,” he said.

Comparing Cincinnati’s celebration to the original, he explained that when Germans come from all over the country, each person comes dressed in traditional German attire that is unique to their hometown.

“Each town has their own specific tradition and pride, so display of this heritage is extremely important,” Dyer added.

He noted that Oktoberfest is not only a weekend for drinking and having fun, but also a vibrant and even sacred celebration of German culture.

As many German immigrants have dispersed and settled around the world, they have taken the festival with them, including to Cincinnati. The Queen City has the fourth largest German population of all metropolitan areas in the U.S., with more than one-fourth of the city’s locals claiming German descent.

“I’ve never really had a chance to connect with my heritage before,” Jack Fulton, first-year computer science major, said after attending the celebration.“But at Oktoberfest, I was able to make that connection.”

Cincinnati’s 2021 festival featured patrons dressed head to toe in German attire — Tyrolean hats, lederhosen and dirndl dresses — and never without a drink in hand.

Tents lined the streets, selling 200 different food items, such as Bratwurst, strudel, sauerkraut, currywurst and fried pickles. The festival also featured over 100 different varieties of beer.

Bands on every street corner played German music to patrons gathered around, eager to dance and enjoy the music of their heritage.

“I’m from Cincinnati, but I’d never been to Oktoberfest before,” Alyssa Blandford, first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public (PPP) major, said.“It was really interesting to see my city in a new way.”

Special events were held throughout the weekend, including the “Running of the Wieners” (a dachshund race), the Sam Adams Stein Hoist Challenge and The World’s Largest Chicken Dance — a tradition unique to Cincinnati.

Dyer noted that though the festival celebrates German heritage, it is not exclusively German; Oktoberfest welcomes people from all backgrounds.

“Oktoberfest is a celebration that brings people from all cultures together,” he said.