Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Sadness that is Chicago's Oktoberfest

Chicago's Oktoberfest has come and gone, and if you blinked -- you missed it.  It was held for two days at Federal Plaza (77 West Jackson Street) in the Loop and was a sparsely attended affair.  Just a few rows of stand-up tables, and a long tent selling pretzels, beer, and brats.  No offense is intended to those who organized it when I give it a "Whoop-de-freakin'-do" rating.

Not that long ago, Chicago had an epic Oktoberfest celebration.  Think Ferris Beuler's parade.  But those days ended just before I got to Chicago.  People I worked with told me it was because the organizers couldn't get insurance for the parade.  Somehow the Mexicans and the Irish and a dozen other nationalities can get insurance, but the Germans can't?  Do the insurance companies fear the parade will invade Avondale?  It all sounds preposterous to me.  I suspect it's more likely the apathy that comes with total assimilation that killed Oktoberfest, and not any financial constraint.


  1. Oktoberfest is alive and well in Chicago and up in Lincoln Square. Of course in true German fashion, it takes place in September.

    And the Kristkindlmarkt in Daley Plaza during the holidays is about as authentic a German event as one can find west of Dusseldorf.

    The Loop Oktoberfest was around for maybe ten years and was a big Berghoff event. I imagine that once the formerly great Chicago institution changed its mission, so went the festival.

  2. Good to hear that there's still an Oktoberfest elsewhere in the city. I've lived here six years and hadn't heard of it, so the Lincoln Square group could use a little better publicity machine.

    Kristkindlmarkt was always a favorite of mine. I loved when it had Block 37 all to itself. Now that it's smaller and only in Daley Plaza, it's still good. I usually go at least once a week. The best time is when it's dark and there's a light snowfall. Christmas magic.


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