Last year, Batavia Mainstreet brought Oktoberfest back to River Street. And the event was such a barrel of fun, the organization couldn’t help but roll it out again this year.
“There’s no other true German Oktoberfest in the area,” says Debby Foote, a volunteer who serves as the event’s chairperson this year. “We said, ‘Let’s bring it back; let’s do it again.’”
More than 5,000 people came to downtown Batavia in early October last year for Batavia Mainstreet’s Oktoberfest offering. And Foote says that organizers are expecting even more to come by during the two-day festival, which takes place Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7.
The event will kick off Friday evening at 4:30 p.m. Two hours later, Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke, in his Oktoberfest role of “Bergermeister” will officially launch the festivities with a ceremonial Tapping of the Keg.
Chicago’s Johnny Wagner Band will take the stage again this year, and will perform a mix of Bavarian and Austrian polkas, rock and jazz, complete with yodeling performances, and a 15-foot-long Swiss Alphorn and Austrian cowbells.
The Wagner band will be the first of three headlining bands to entertain. On Saturday afternoon, the Chardon Polka Band will bring their quirky, unorthodox take on “Cleveland-style polka” – straight from Ohio – offering traditional polkas with a bit of a punk rock influence, Foote says.
The band’s style has earned them appearances across the country, according to their online biography, including at a NFL game, performances at some of the country’s largest Oktoberfests and even opening for the Cleveland Orchestra. The Chardon band also has appeared on various TV shows, including their own reality series, “Polka Kings.”
“This is their first time in Batavia, and we’re really excited to get them here,” says Foote. “They are just so fun.”
On Saturday night, for the second consecutive year, the fest will be closed out by Mike Knauf and Die Musikmeisters.
However, the music is only one part of a proper Oktoberfest.
Foote notes that the event also will feature beer from the event’s presenting sponsor, Samuel Adams, and an array of authentic German foods from restaurants and food suppliers, including Marengo’s Café 20; the Wurst Kitchen in Aurora; Gaetano’s in Batavia; Monika’s Organic Bakery in Sycamore; and Enticing Cuisine in Batavia.
“They’ll be serving that warm, delicious, true traditional German, Bavarian food,” says Foote.
And in addition to the music, beer and food, the fest also will feature an assortment of other family-friendly contests, activities and entertainment, including a special entertainment area for the kinder (children.)
On Saturday the Batavia Academy of Dance, A Step Above Dance Academy and the Egerlander Dance Group of Chicago, will offer traditional German dances.
Festival-goers can participate in a German spelling bee, too.
Attendees are encouraged to dress in their best takes on traditional Bavarian garb, as the fest will again offer a lederhosen and dirndl contest.
And, on Friday, attendees will have a chance to compete in the Sam Adams Stein Hoisting contest, and potentially advance through later stages of the national contest to win a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
Admission to the event is free, and the event will be entirely enclosed in heavy duty tents, so rain, wind or early autumn chill won’t slow it down, says Foote.
For those traveling to the event, abundant free parking options are available throughout downtown Batavia. A map of the parking areas is available on Batavia MainStreet’s website.
If you go
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7
WHERE: North River Street in downtown Batavia