Oktoberfest Season is Upon Us

My favorite time of the year is upon--time when it finally becomes enjoyable to be outside again with the weather, the harvests of hops & grapes come in, and hunting season opens. No I am talking about Fall, I am talking about Oktoberfest season.  And if you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I'm in deep in the Oktoberfest scene. (Hm...gotta see if I can still squeeze into the lederhosen this year...)

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.

KC Bier Company Oktoberfest - 9/24 - 9/25

This is the fourth year for KC Bier Co's Oktoberfest, but it's 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 - 9/24 - 9/25

Guess what?  That awesome fest your read about above was made even better.  Grünauer has actually partnered up with KC Bier Co and will be doing all their food!

Lee's Summit Oktoberfest - 9/22 - 9/24

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

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.)

The city has a strong German heritage and lots of wineries in and around the city. (And contrary to popular belief, there are wine tents at Oktoberfest in Munich in addition to the beer tents, so you don't have to feel guilty about drinking wine at Oktoberfest) They also have the Tin Mill Brewery downtown, and if for the real beer lovers, you can drive about 20 minutes down the road to visit 2nd Shift!

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 - 10/14

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:

St John’s Oktoberfest - Saturday 9/24

Shawnee Oktoberfest - Friday 9/29

Westport Oktoberfest Pub Crawl - Saturday 10/1

Westwood Oktoberfest - Saturday 9/30

Know of any others?  Post in the comment section!

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