Event to offer keg bowling, yodeling contest, kids events
By Pat Shaver
IOWA CITY–Oktoberfest is about more than just beer.
A group of business owners in the Northside neighborhood, one of Iowa City’s oldest business districts, collaborated to organize the second annual Oktoberfest and are expecting record crowds at this year’s event.
Oktoberfest has expanded to a two-day event, Oct. 5-6. The event is combined with Brewfest, now in its 17th year. Events will take place throughout the area of Bloomington Street between Linn and Gilbert streets down to Jefferson Street, near landmark businesses such as Hamburg Inn, Pagliai’s Pizza and Oasis Falafel.
The schedule includes multiple children’s activities, adult games, local food vendors, live music and hundreds of beer offerings.
“All of this couldn’t take place without a great committee. We worked very well with the northside businesses. Everybody in the Northside Marketplace is pitching in somehow,” said Doug Alberhasky, co-chair of the event and John’s Grocery manager and bier guy.
About 10,000 people attended the event last year, helping to raise $18,000 for the American Heart Association. This year, proceeds will be donated to the American
Heart Association and the Horace Mann Elementary School Smartboard Program.
“Frankly, for the first year, we knocked it out the park,” he said.
There will be about 30 different activities for kids, Mr. Alberhasky noted.
“Everybody has heard of Oktoberfest in Munich. The instant thing (people think) is that it’s a beerfest. But really, Oktoberfest is not much different than the Iowa State Fair,” he said. “It really ties into the heritage of Iowa City’s oldest neighborhood.”
Tim Fischer, co-owner of The Pit Smokehouse and Cured. A Deli, and cochair of the event, said Oktoberfest was an attempt to help people get to know the neighborhood.
“The city events are all downtown. We came together as a neighborhood of our own. This event shines a light down there,” Mr. Fischer said.
Last year, Mr. Fischer, along with a few others, had pushed for a Summer of the Arts (SOTA) event in the neighborhood, but SOTA decided to keep the events downtown. That led to the idea of having an Oktoberfest and he partnered with Mr. Alberhasky to host a joint event.
“The Hamburg, Pagliai’s and John’s Grocery are all staples in town. They have all been here 50-plus years,” Mr. Fischer said. “To get them all together and working together is pretty powerful.”
Organizers have collected about $15,000 in donations from sponsors to help put on the event, Mr. Alberhasky said.
The title sponsors, he added, are the University of Iowa Community Credit Union
and the Iowa City Downtown District. Most of the Oktoberfest events are free, except for Brewfest and a few other activities. There are still regular admission tickets available for Brewfest, which lets in 2,500 people. The 500 limited Brewmaster tickets have sold out.
“We will definitely sell out of both of those,” Mr. Alberhasky said.
Tickets can be purchased at John’s Grocery or online at www.johnsgrocery.com.
“The level of beer culture in the area has vastly improved,” he said. “We have thirsty beer drinkers who are thirsty for knowledge.”
Brewfest will feature more than 500 beers from around the world Oct. 6 from
noon-4 p.m. for regular admission and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for the 500 limited Brewmaster
ticketholders. The regular admission is $20 and includes a .2L Kolsch glass and eight drink
tickets. Additional tickets are 50 cents each. Samples are .1L and cost one to four tickets.
The $40 Brewmaster tickets will include 20 drink tickets, 11 a.m. admission and a .25L German-made, gold-rimmed, footed pilsner glass.
There are several adult games planned, including keg bowling, an old fashioned strong man contest, yodeling competition, and the Munich bar wench competition, where competitors wear costumes and race carrying beer mugs.
All of the 14 northside marketplace food vendors will sell various food options.
Food vendors include: The Pit Smokehouse, Cured. A Deli, Hamburg Inn, Pagliai’s Pizza, El Banditos, Bluebird Diner, Linn Street Café, Motley Cow, Taste of China, Oasis Falafel, Pizza Pit, Dairy Queen, Hilltop Tavern and Nodo. Many the food vendors haven’t decided
what they will be selling, Mr. Alberhasky said, but people can expect to get Pagliai’s Pizza by the slice and Scotch eggs from Cured A. Deli.
Non-ticketholders will be able to buy beers Friday night and Saturday after 4 p.m.
Sodafest is an option for non-drinkers and children, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 and includes five drink tickets and a tasting mug. Dozens of unique sodas will be available to taste.
Other youth activities include: German hat making, wheelchair races, rock climbing wall, sport contests and an inflatable slide.
“We’re gearing toward toddlers all the way up to teenagers. I’d like to see a couple thousand kids there,” he said.
Mr. Alberhasky said they will attempt to set the world record (not a Guinness World Record) for the largest beaked chicken dance Oct. 6 at 3:30 p.m. The record is set at 650 dancers.
- Oct. 5-6
- Northside Marketplace, Iowa City
- Includes Brewfest, Sodafest, children’s activities, adult games, local food vendors, live music
- Cost: Mostly free; $20 Brewfest
- For more information, visit www.northsideoktoberfest.com
- Last year’s Northside Oktoberfest in Iowa City brought in 10,000 visitors. This year’s event has been expanded to two days and will feature 500 beers, kids events and local food vendors.