By Mario McKelllop

Originally created to commemorate the marriage of two German royals, the Oktoberfest folk festival has since evolved into a celebration of Bavarian culture. In addition to the core music, food and beer-fueled festivities staged in Munich, several other spin-off festivals have spun up all over the world in places with large German communities. Although the largest American Wisen event is held in Cincinnati annually, the various events staged America’s Comeback City are nothing to sneeze at. Here’s a rundown of five must visit Cleveland-area events to attend this Oktoberfest, which runs this year from Sept. 16 to Oct. 3.

The Downtown Oktoberfest @ Public Square
138 E. Main St., Suite 201B
Kent, OH 44240
(330) 677-8000

Although it only runs from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 23, Kent’s Downtown Oktoberfest @ Public Square packs a lot of fun into one day. This event’s main attraction is the food, with ample quantities of authentic German cuisine like schnitzel, stuffed pretzels, strudel and bratwurst prepared by restaurants and bakeries. And there will be plenty of cider and Spaten Oktoberfest available to help attendees wash all that delicious grub down. The festival will also receive some top-flight entertainment in the form of performances from acts like Armstrong Bearcat and Polka Revolution. Tickets for Downtown Oktoberfest start at $10.

Wolf Creek/Pine River Grist Mill Oktoberfest
St. Route 3 South
Loudonville, OH 44842
(419) 668-2497

Those seeking a more classical Oktoberfest experience should attend the event staged at the Wolfe Creek/Pine River Grist Mill. As the venue is a meticulous recreation of a 1830s mill, celebrating Oktoberfest here will be the closest you can get to time travel. It’s also worth noting that this Oktoberfest event will feature more than 100 different varieties of foreign and domestic beer line. The mill’s festival event will take place on Sept. 30 from 12 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $1 for those under the age of 20.

Cleveland Oktoberfest 5K Bier Run and 1-Mile Walk
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds
19201 E. Bagley Road
Middleburg Heights, OH 44130
(440) 243-0090

Not all Oktoberfest activities involve day drinking. For instance, the Cleveland Oktoberfest 5K Bier Run and 1-Mile Walk allows participants to celebrate the festival with a little friendly competition. Attendees of the Cleveland Oktoberfest can take a break from imbibing to watch a host of athletes dash around the fairgrounds. And since anyone who dresses in traditional Oktoberfest garb can enter the race for free, it’s not uncommon to see runner decked out in dirndls and the hose and lederhosen. Both Oktoberfest races take place on Sept. 4 and begin at 11 a.m.

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Hofbrauhaus Cleveland
1550 Chester Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
(216) 621-Beer

At the end of the day, the purpose of Oktoberfest is to offer there was a local community an opportunity to get together and connect. But some might find the large crowds at many Oktoberfest events actually makes that process harder. For those who prefer to do their cultural appreciating in a more intimate setting, there is Hofbrauhaus Cleveland. Visitors partake in some of the restaurant’s sublime traditional German cuisine, such as Riesenfleischpflanzerl, a humungous Bavarian cheeseburger. Or Grillhendel, a classic Oktoberfest dish that includes with roast chicken and homemade Bavarian potato salad that pairs Incredibly well with a flavorful and malty mug of Dunkel.

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