When Scott Smith, manager of brewery experiences for Anheuser-Busch, thinks of Oktoberfest, he thinks of food.
This weekend, for its fifth annual Oktoberfest celebration, he says the brewery will serve more than the usual pretzels and bratwurst.
The Anheuser-Busch Biergarten will hold one of its largest beer-and-food pairings of the year on Friday. Head chef Daniel Tavvegia will pair four Oktoberfest brews with German foods such as braised pork loin and albondigas (meatballs) in a pepper cream sauce. Guests must book reservations online for the pairing dinner.
“When everybody’s together, everybody’s having a good time,” Smith says. “It’s a great chance for people to meet up and catch up over a beer. Our Oktoberfest is family friendly, so it’s one of those things where everyone can get together.”
Dan Foust, chairman of the St. Charles Oktoberfest, says he and his team work year-round on the festival. He even travels across the country to other Oktoberfests for ideas to bring back home.
Last year, the event in St. Charles attracted 120,000 patrons. This year, it will feature a 5K race, brat-eating contests, an antique car show and a “Wiener Takes All” dog derby.
Foust says he tries to add new entertainment while also keeping as much German culture as possible. There will be performances by German Cultural Society dancers, glockenspiel players, and German-themed bands Die Spitzbuam and the Klaberheads.
“We try and put a lot of emphasis on the German culture side, but the No. 1 reason people go is for the fellowship — being there with their friends,” Foust says.
Some events, such as Soulard Oktoberfest and Belleville Oktoberfest, will challenge patrons to see who can hold a beer-filled stein the longest. In Belleville, stein-holding finalists could win $500; there’s also a wiener dog race, costume contest and cornhole competition.
Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest will feature a lineup of music other than the oompah-thumping Oktoberfest norm. A 17-piece Mexican Tijuana band, Banda Artilleros, will perform on the second day of the brewery’s event. On the final day, “family day” events will include pop-up performances and juggling lessons by Circus Flora artists.
The St. Louis Zoo centered its Zootoberfest on fall-related activities for visitors of all ages. Children may participate in games and crafts such as a butterfly migration game and a frog launcher activity. The Magic House will host a festive hat-making competition at the festival Sept. 29.
What Oktoberfest at the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten • When Pairing dinner 6-10 p.m. Friday; festival 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday • Where Anheuser-Busch Biergarten, 1200 Lynch Street • How much $60 per person for dinner; festival is free, with food and drinks for sale • More info budweisertours.com
What Belleville Oktoberfest • When 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday • Where Belleville Public Square • How much Free; food and drinks for sale • More info bellevilleoktoberfest.com
What St. Charles Oktoberfest • When 4-11 p.m. Sept. 27, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 29 • Where 1050 South Riverdale Drive, St. Charles • How much Free; $35-$65 for VIP • More info saintcharlesoktoberfest.com
What Oktoberfest St. Louis • When Noon-midnight Sept. 27, 11 a.m.-midnight Sept. 28, noon-7 p.m. Sept. 29 • Where Urban Chestnut Midtown Brewery & Biergarten, 3229 Washington Boulevard • How much Free; food and drinks for sale • More info urbanchestnut.com
What Zootoberfest • When 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 5-6, Oct. 12-13 • Where St. Louis Zoo, 1 Government Drive, Forest Park • How much Free • More info stlzoo.org/zootoberfest
What Soulard Oktoberfest • When 4-10:30 p.m. Oct. 11, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Oct. 12 • Where Soulard Market Park, 730 Carroll Street • How much Free; food and drinks for sale; Bier Hall tickets are $20 • More info soulard-oktoberfest.com