After a virtual event in 2020 and a scaled-down version in 2021, Oktoberfest at the Dayton Art Institute, slated today through Sunday, Sept. 23-25, will be what organizers are calling “full tilt.” In other words, everything that was missing is back and there are new additions to be excited about.
“We’ve been calling it Oktoberfest ‘full tilt,’” said Mike Griest, DAI sponsorship and special events manager. “We’re back to our regular hours. The artisan tents are back. The food court is full – every spot has been sold. We’ve added some additional international food as well as everything everybody has come to kind of expect. It’s the Oktoberfest that everyone remembers.”
Additional notables returning this year include the RTA shuttles, which will run Friday for the Lederhosen Lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, look for shuttle stop locations along Monument Avenue, Wilkinson, Second, Main and Fifth Streets. The shuttles will run from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Patrons can also park for free at the University of Dayton parking lot on Riverview Drive between Patterson Boulevard and Main Street, behind the Dayton Marriott, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is no charge for the RTA shuttle rides. As many people know, parking is limited near DAI.
New food vendors include Korean barbecue and an Indian food truck. There will even be vegetarian options including a veggie bratwurst. According to Katherine Cezeaux, Oktoberfest chairperson and volunteer, all the favorite staples will be there.
“Schmidt’s will still be here,” Cezeaux confirmed. “I hope people are pleasantly surprised by all our great food. I’m personally excited about the new shirt designs.”
The food court will include Associate Board Alumni Brats & Metts, Bavarian Roasted Nuts, Bessie’s Noodles, Big B’s Tasty BBQ, Black Jack Grill, Bourbon Street, Brock Masterson’s, Cosmic Kettle Corn, Dayton Eintracht Singing Society, DK Diner, Dublin Pub, Greek Orthodox Church, Hamburger Wagon, Hey Hey Bar & Grill, Pretzel Hut, Kung Fu BBQ, RKP Vending, Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, The Original Strudel Factory, Two Fatt Indians and Young’s Jersey Dairy.
Festivalgoers can also expect tons of swag for purchase including a larger inventory of T-shirt styles. The Oktoberfest mug will again be available for purchase as well as wine tumblers. Griest said there are a lot of smaller things that have been added people might notice.
“As part of the guest experience, we will have new photography opportunities and we’ve refreshed a lot of our branding,” he said. “Whereas last year was scaled back, this year is expanded. A little bit more of everything. So, if you loved it before, you’ll find it. If you are looking for something fresh and new, we also have it.”
Thirty-two artisans have been selected to bring the art back to Oktoberfest. The artisans represent nine disciplines and 10 states, both old favorites and new wares. Disciplines include ceramics, fibers, glass, jewelry, leather, mixed media, painting, photography and woodworking.
The beer trucks will be serving up domestic and Oktoberfest favorites. Five beer trucks will be selling craft beers, ciders and a beer that tastes like banana bread. The wine bar will be open with nine different wines to choose from, which can be purchased by the glass or the bottle. The Bottle Shop has added new beer selections. Seven different seltzers will also be available.
Beyond beer, food and shopping, outdoor entertainment will be featured throughout the weekend on numerous stages. Various local bands and DJs will perform in the evening. During the day get ready to dance to polka bands. A TV tent will be set up in order for patrons to enjoy college and NFL football all weekend. There will also be an assortment of kid-friendly food and events. The ACCO Brands FamilyFest takes place Saturday and Sunday afternoon from noon to 4:30 p.m. each day with special activities for all ages.
“Daytime Oktoberfest is very family-friendly,” Griest noted. “Nighttime Oktoberfest we like to call ‘Club Oktoberfest.’ There’s a DJ at night, but (there is) family-friendly stuff to do all weekend long.”
The aforementioned Lederhosen Lunch will kick off Oktoberfest weekend on Friday, Sept. 23 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Admission is free, and food and beverage are available for purchase. All the proceeds benefit DAI. Bratwurst, mettwurst, schnitzel sandwiches, German salads and homemade noodles will be sold. Beer and live music are also part of the lunch.
“If you don’t love the crowds, but want a mug and some German food, come for the Lederhosen Lunch,” Griest recommended. “It’s gained popularity over the years. All the food is made in-house.”
On Friday night, the exclusive Preview Party takes place at 7 p.m. This ticketed event includes complimentary draft beer, wine and soft drinks as well as live music by Weekend Effect. Free shuttle service will be offered during the Preview Party. Attendees can park at the University of Dayton parking lot on River Park Drive, located between the Marriott and former Dayton Daily News building, and take free shuttles directly to and from the Preview Party. Tickets can be purchased online for this event. Advance tickets are $55 for museum members and $75 for non-members. Tickets are $95 at the gate on the day of the event.
Oktoberfest will open Saturday, Sept. 24 from noon to 11:30 p.m. and on Sunday. Sept. 25 from noon to 7 p.m. The DAI Associate Board, a group of 64 dedicated museum volunteers, organizes the event as an annual fundraiser to support The Dayton Art Institute.
“Coming out of the pandemic, we want everyone to feel a sense of normalcy,” said Michael Roediger, DAI Director and CEO. “The Associate Board makes it happen. They are the legs and body that make it happen. There are so many ways to look at how (Oktoberfest) supports the museum. It’s an important fundraiser. We do it because we are passionate about the work we do.”
Another important part of the event is volunteers. Cezeaux said they need “lates and gates.” Late-night workers and people to help at the gates are the main necessities. Also, being a volunteer comes with free admission. To become a volunteer, visit the Oktoberfest website.
Tickets can only be purchased at pre-sale locations and at the gate. Pre-sale ticket prices are $8 for an adult, $5 for seniors 60 and over, and $5 for youth ages 7-18. Pre-sale locations include Arrow Wine in Kettering and Centerville, Coffee Hub in Beavercreek and Xenia, all locations of Dorothy Lane Market, and Ghostlight Coffee locations on Wayne Avenue, Patterson Boulevard and at 2nd Street Market. Ticket prices at the gate are $10 for an adult, $7 for seniors 60 and over, and $7 for youth ages 7-18. Admission is free for ages 6 and under.
The DAI museum building and collection galleries will be closed to the general public from Sept. 21-25 for Oktoberfest, resuming regular hours on Sept. 28.
For more information about Oktoberfest, please visit https://www.daytonartinstitute.org/upcoming-events/special-events/oktoberfest/.