As I've written in the past, there really is only one true Oktoberfest in Munich. But I've become less of a purist as I've aged so I've come to enjoy our local Oktoberfests almost as much as the real deal (even if nothing can really compare). These days, we actually have some great Oktoberfests around here that are truer to the original design than what we've had in the past. I've got a list of all the festival events at the bottom, but I'm going to highlight a few of my favorites here as well.
And if you need any more encouragement, now you can watch a live feed from the Hofbräu tent in Munich! Man...wish I was there. Eins, Zwei, G'suffa!
KC Bier Company Oktoberfest - 9/24 - 9/25
This is only the third year for KC Bier Co's Oktoberfest, but it's quickly become my favorite fest in town. They've got the perfect mix of music, dancing, kids activities, food, and, naturally, great beer. It seems like most of the Oktoberfests in town lack one or another of these critical elements, but KC Bier Co hits all of them right on. You'll find some of the best German beers around fresh out of their fermenters including their excellent Festbier (a true Oktoberfest-style beer that is what they actually serve in Munich, not the Märzen style that most Americans associate with Oktoberfest). And they make awesome radlers to order that can keep you drinking by the Maß all day without difficulty.
The fest runs on Saturday from 11am-10pm and Sunday from 12pm-9pm. There are activities going all day long both days. Check out more on their website. No admission tickets are necessary before this event.
Grünauer Oktoberfest - 9/30 - 10/1
Before KC Bier Co opened up, Grünauer's Oktoberfest was my favorite in town. Running for 7 years now, they do a great job. And if you're looking to get some authentic Oktoberfest food, then this is still the best festival to visit. I can honestly say that I believe Grünauer, in the middle of the Midwest, has the best German food in the entire world. Pair this up with the freshest Munich brewed beers (their imported lagers aren't skunked or stale tasting!) that I've ever had in the US, and you've got a solid Oktoberfest. They also do a great job with the music, with five different Volksmusik bands playing over the course of the fest.
The fest runs on Friday from 4pm-12am and Saturday from 1pm-12am. Check out more on their website. Also, check out their full music lineup here. There are admission tickets, so make sure you purchase before you show up. Cost is only ~$13, which gets you a drink token worth about $7.
Lee's Summit Oktoberfest - 9/23 - 9/25
Lee's Summit Oktoberfest is another great fest celebration held on the streets in downtown LS. If you're wondering, it's kind of a big deal with more than 70,000 visitors last year. This one probably mirrors the actual Oktoberfest best of any in the area minus the beer drinking (although their beer garden has come a long way from just serving up Bud Light). They've got all kinds of events, activities, and carnival rides in addition the main beer tent.
This fest is really geared more towards families rather than hardcore festbier drinking, but they do still have a beer tent, a wine tent, and their second annual homebrew tasting and competition sponsored by Grains & Taps. There will be traditional music and food throughout the fest as well. Also, completely random, there is a dog contest and a baby contest. I assume the baby who throws the beer keg farthest wins.
So, for the carnival atmosphere with a little beer and German food thrown in, the LS Oktoberfest is a good call especially for families. The fest runs on Friday from 5pm-11pm, Saturday from 10am-11pm. The fest continues with the carnival only (no beer!) on Sunday from 12pm-4pm. Check out more on their website.
Hermann Oktoberfest - Every Weekend in October (5 of them this year!)
The Oktoberfest celebration in Hermann is my favorite in the area for a full weekend excursion. If you haven't ever heard of Hermann, it's a little town in the "Missouri Rheinland", the heart of Missouri wine country. (Don't laugh! Most of the MO wineries are actually making some great wines these days, not just the super sweet alco-pop wines that they used to.)
I'd also highly recommend checking out the Festhall. The entrance is a little hard to find and easy to miss--it's off of the west side of Gutenberg St, just north of 1st Street. It's obscured by trees and some other stuff on the sidewalk. But it's the best place in town for an authentic Oktoberfest experience with lots of lederhosen, dirnds, people actually speaking German, and dancing (and not just the damned Chicken Dance!). Plus, the festhall is an awesome building. Here's a streetview of the entrance:
There are things going on all over town, mainly on Saturdays, every weekend of October. For some extra fun, take the Amtrak down there and drink on the road (it's literally the only economical Amtrak ride you can take out of KC).
Holyfield Winery Oktoberfest - 10/8
Like Hermann, this Oktoberfest is focused on wine instead of beer. But Holyfield makes some of the best wine in the Metro and has some good German-style wines. I mainly love this fest because the setting is so idyllic, they have good music, and the weather is perennially excellent. The fest always makes for a solid day of outdoor day-drinking and chilling. Make sure you bring your own setup though as seating is limited. They've got plenty of space to set up portable chairs, tables, picnic blankets, and whatever else you want to bring. It's a bit of a drive, but well worth it if you can find a DD. "Dan the Bierock Man" will be back and the Alpen Spielers will be playing. The fest runs from 12pm-4pm on Saturday. Check out more details on their website.
And Even more Oktoberfests in KC:
Rheinland Restaurant Oktoberfest - Saturday 9/24, Saturday 10/1
St John’s Oktoberfest - Saturday 9/24
Shawnee Oktoberfest - Friday 9/30
Westport Oktoberfest Pub Crawl - Saturday 10/1
Westwood Oktoberfest - Saturday 10/1
Cider-Tobierfest Grain to Glass - Saturday 10/1
MOtoberfest presented by Urban Chestnut at Bier Station - Saturday 10/15