Oktoberfest of the Midwest


Caitlin Ellingson/Iowa State Daily

Ames celebrated its annual Oktoberfest festival on Sept. 20 with authentic German food, games, European wine, craft beer, polka music and dancing lessons. The night finished with a live concert from Standing Hampton.

Audra Kincart

The third year of Ames’ Oktoberfest brought good music, good culture, good food and good beer to Main Street.

It also brought double the attendance, something that Main Street Cultural District hopes to carry on to next year.

Oktoberfest took place on Main Street with headline acts including Vertical Horizon and The Nadas. There were also five different brewers and German-themed food. Oktoberfest, a German festival, provided an atmosphere similar to the Iowa State Fair that attracted many Ames residents and ISU college students.

Oktoberfest, usually during September in Germany, stems from the first Oktoberfest in 1810 in honor of Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The event started Oct. 12 and lasted five days. Oktoberfest was later moved to September because of the better weather.

Most of the beer served at Oktoberfest came from London Underground, which is owned by Jess Clyde. Brands of beer included Shiner, Coors Light and Peace Tree. They also brought in Deschutes Brewery, which added to the diversity of styles at Oktoberfest.

“We brought in five different brewers with seven different varieties and a wine pavilion,” said Bill Malone, event chairman of Oktoberfest, when asked what was unique to Oktoberfest this year.

Another important aspect of Oktoberfest was the German-themed food, including a cheddar wurst with a pretzel bun and sauerkraut as well as three different varieties of German bratwurst. This was provided by Strudl Haus, a Des Moines-based German restaurant owned and operated by an Austrian native.

Volunteers wore fitted, traditional German outfits that added to the conventional German culture of Oktoberfest.

Although there is many people with German heritage in Iowa, targeting them was not the goal of the event, said Emily Miller, events coordinator for Main Street Cultural District. Rather, the coordinators viewed Oktoberfest as one of the only community-oriented events hosted in the fall.

Oktoberfest did however include some of the same traditional events. Polka dancing was performed Sept. 20 by a polka dancing club that also offered polka dancing lessons to those interested. There were also wine and beer tasting cards available for $10 that enabled customers to try 10 different wines and beers.

Oktoberfest was a completely volunteer-run event. Vendors and workers mostly included Main Street business owners and operators. This enabled the owners to gain and promote their business and they definitely saw the benefits of being a vendor of Oktoberfest, said Bethany DeVries, owner of Della Viti located on Main Street.

Although one had to be 21 or older to attend Oktoberfest, Miller said the Ames City Council is looking into changing policy to make this and similar events open to minors in the future.

When asked what the future of Oktoberfest holds, Miller said, “Who knows? The people on the board have huge imaginations and can throw [Oktoberfest] in any direction that they want. We want it to be the Oktoberfest of the Midwest.”

Miller believes this can be accomplished by hosting a longer event in a larger area with more vendors.

Students Kyle Martin, Kenton Betz and Alex Rover all agreed about what drew them to Oktoberfest: good music, good culture, good food and good beer.