Oktoberfest Review - 2016 Oktoberfest in August

2016 Oktoberfest in August

August 19 - 21, 2016
Schwaben Verein, 301 N. Weiland Road, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, United States Admission: $10

Overall: 80%
Authenticity:
Beer:
Food:
Entertainment:
Accessibility:

Food:
  • Leberkaese Dinner
  • Bratwurst or Thueringer Dinner
  • Leverkaese Sandwich
  • Bratwurst Sandwich
  • Thueringer Sandwich
  • Weisswurst with Pretzel
  • Bismarck Herring on a Bun
  • Landjaeger Pair
  • Sauerkraut
  • Potato Salad
  • Pretzel
  • Hog Dog on a Bun
  • Cake
  • Coffee
Beer:
  • Hofbräuhaus München
  • Dunnkel
  • Miller Lite
Wine:
  • White
  • Red

Entertainment:
  • Chef Dan and the Appetizers
  • Amazing Mike, One Man Band
  • Alte Kameraden
  • Phenix
  • German Dancers


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For those of you who don’t know, something extra special is happening this Oktoberfest season. Backyard Oktoberfest’s own Scott and Jessica will be getting married. After we tie the knot this September, we’re heading over to Europe to experience all the wonders of Munich’s 216th Oktoberfest - and maybe check out Dublin’s Oktoberfest while we’re in the neighborhood. Our wedding and subsequent travels will be an exciting time for us, but unfortunately it means that we’re going to miss out on some of our favorite local Oktoberfest events this year. Thankfully, we were still able to honor our long-held tradition of starting the season with Schwaben Verein’s Oktoberfest in August.

Last Saturday, we popped over to the Schwaben Center in Buffalo Grove for some traditional German fare. By the time we crossed the street from the free parking lot and paid our $10 apiece entry fee, Oktoberfest in August was already in full swing. It was a beautiful, cool evening, and local German-Americans and German-Aficionados alike were crowded into the large tent enjoying the music from the Freistadt Alta Kameraden Band. We grabbed some food and beer and got ready to get our oompah on.

As has been the case for the past few years, our feelings about the food and beverage selections available at Oktoberfest in August are mixed. We’re big fans of the beer. Anytime we can get a pitcher of Hofbräuhaus München for $14, we’re pretty happy about it. We were also excited to see Dunkel on tap. Even though we never actually got around to ordering any, we were glad to see another German beer option that you can’t find at your local sports pub. Other beverages offerings included Miller Lite, Jagermeister, both red and white wines, and of course water and soft drinks. As usual, we stuck to the Hofbräuhaus München, and we were not disappointed.

We were less thrilled by our food choices, however. We do not come into Oktoberfest in August with high hopes for culinary greatness. That’s not the goal of this event. But we have to report that the food we ordered this year was just okay. To be fair, the nature of the outdoor event space at the Schwaben Center makes food preparation tricky and keeping food warm difficult - especially on a cool night that felt more like autumn than the height of summer. Unfortunately this meant that our pretzels ($2) and Thueringer sandwiches ($7) were cold. We ate them anyway, but the temperature did not help the already bland sausage and dry bun. Mustard helped, but not much. Still, as we snacked on Landjaeger ($3) and apple cake ($4), we had to admit that we were satisfied and ready for some dancing.

The Freistadt Alta Kameraden Band kept the crowd engaged and entertained during their long sets. Not one, but two snake dances broke out in the couple of hours we watched them perform. They also provided accompaniment for a group of German dancers, which is always fun to watch. A shoutout must be given for the other entertainment of the evening, as well. RCJuggle was positioned right outside the tent and spent the evening making some of the most elaborate balloon sculptures we’ve ever seen. As most of the revelers kept their eyes on the band, we watched their children walking around with light-up balloon aliens, various weaponry, intricate hats, and lifelike animals, including one very impressive giant squid. They even helped one young girl live out her dream of wearing Iron Man’s suit, made entirely out of balloons. (Aside: It was crazy, and I want one.)

Above all, our favorite thing about this event is the community feel. None of our friends could attend the event with us this year, but it didn’t matter because everyone is friends at Oktoberfest in August. From the friendly vendors to the enthusiastic crowd, the interactions between people of all ages makes this feels like a block party. In fact, this year, that community spirit led to a surprise encounter for us. As we stood off to the side of the tent, simultaneously watching the band and the balloon artist, we heard, “Hey, aren’t you Backyard Oktoberfest?” Indeed, we are, so we said hello and ended up having a nice chat with a man who is set to host his own backyard Oktoberfest this year. It was a highlight of our night. So, if you spot us at your local Oktoberfest, don’t be shy. Come and say hello. That’s one of the best things about Oktoberfest. Even if you go in by yourself, you leave with new friends and great memories.

Thanks for the new memories, Oktoberfest in August. We’ll see you next year.


Reviewed By: Jessica Jones

Oktoberfest Wreath

Oktoberfest Wreath (≈6’ 4” diameter, ≈20' circumference)

  • 24 pieces of 12” x 1.5” x .75” wood - $10
  • 24 - .25” x 2.5” bolts - $5
  • 24 - .25” nuts - $2
  • 48 washers - $3
  • 4 screw hooks - $5
  • 4 - 6' pieces of 4” semi-rigid dryer vent - $50
  • ≈270’ of 3” wide Garland (30 – 9’ long strands) - $70
  • 2 - 12’ long gold chains (loop size is up to you) - $20
  • 20’ big bulb light strand (preferably with an even number of lights) - $15
  • Ribbon - $20
  • Duct Tape - $5
  • Total ≈$205

Tools needed:

  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Pencil
  • Protractor
  • Two wrenches the size of your nut and bolt
  • Tape measure 
  • Ruler or straight edge

1. Cut wood into 12" x 1.5" pieces. You will need 24 of these. I purchased two 6' x 3' boards, cut them in half lengthwise and then cut them into the correct sizes.

2. Draw a line down the center of each piece lengthwise (red line). Measure and drill a hole 1" away from the edge of each piece. This will need to be done for all 24 boards.(Figure 1)

Figure 1

Figure 1

3. Using a protractor, measure an outside angle of 165 degrees using your drill hole as your origin point and the red center line as your baseline. Mark that point on your board; then using a straight edge, draw your blue line from the point to the drill hole. (Figure 2)

Figure 2

Figure 2

4. Once your blue line is drawn, draw a parallel line 1.5" under your blue line creating the yellow line. This markings will need to be done to 12 boards.(Figure 3)

Figure 3

Figure 3

5. Once you have those 12 boards marked like Figure 3, place a board with only drill holes on top of your marked board lining up the drill holes. Slip a washer on your bolt then slide the bolt through both boards. Once the bolt is through, place a washer on the end of the bolt then screw the nut on to the bolt until is is somewhat tight. Once the board it somewhat tight you may want to make a mark like the green line to make it easier to line them up later. (Figure 4)

Figure 4

Figure 4

6. Continue connecting your boards with marked boards on the bottom and unmarked boards on the top. Once they are all connected you can fold them on top of each other like an accordion for easy storage and transport. Disregard the numbering of the boards until later. (Figure 5)

Figure 5

Figure 5

7. When you are ready to set up your wreath, take your accordion of boards and start to spread them out. Line up your marks then securely tighten your bolt with a wrench and socket wrench. While the connections will seem tight, they can still be moved accidentally with enough force applied to them. Connect all boards to form your circle. This is now where you should number your boards. (Figure 6). 

Figure 6

Figure 6

finished wreath

finished wreath


8. Once your circle is formed you will need to screw in hooks into the top boards at each 3:00 position. My boards happened to be numbers 5, 11, 17, 23. You can see the hooks in Figure 5. 

9. Next, unscrew one connection to break your circle. This will allow you to slip the dryer vent on to your wreath. This part is easiest done on the ground or on a table big enough to hold your wreath. I purchased 4 sections of dryer vent and extended each section to cover one quarter of the wreath. 

10. Once all of the dryer vents are on, reconnect your board. I now suggest raising your wreath up with chains. When I set my wreath up in my tent I connect it directly to the tent to do the final steps. Raising the wreath will make it easier to finish the last steps, especially if you are attaching lights to the bottom of your wreath. 

11. Once your wreath is raised, connect your dryer vents to each other with duct tape. The connections do not need to be perfect but just enough to keep the vents connected. If you are using lights on the bottom of your wreath, start from a hook section and tape the beginning of your light strand under the hook to the dryer vent allowing the plug in connection to be at the hook. 

12. Now comes the tedious part, start wrapping garland around your wreath. If you are using lights, make sure to wrap the garland around the wiring. The garland will hold your lights in place. When you reach the end of a strand, tuck it under itself to hold it in place. Start the new strand where you left off and tuck the new strand under the previous strand to hold it in place. I did not use any tape to hold the garland on the wreath.(Figure 7)

figure 7

figure 7

13. Keep wrapping the garland around the wreath until you are finished. (Figure 8)

figure 8

figure 8

14. If you so desire, wrap ribbons around your wreath. The wreath in this example had 24 lights underneath so I alternated blue and white ribbons around the wreath placing the ribbon in the middle between the lights. (Figure 9)

figure 9

figure 9

Bavarian Cinnamon Roasted Nuts

Ingredients:

• 2 cups nuts (Pecans, Almonds, Cashews)
• 1 cup white granulated sugar
• ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• ½ tablespoon cinnamon
• ¼ cup water

1. Pour 2 cups of your favorite nut into a large pot. 

2. Add sugar and cinnamon to the pot.

3. In a separate liquid measuring cup, measure your water then add your vanilla to the water and stir. Add this mixture to the pot. 

4. Turn the heat on your stove to medium-high and stir all of your ingredients together. 

5. Stir the pot constantly throughout the cook. The water will begin to boil in the pot. Keep stirring until the water is almost completely evaporated and the stirring becomes more difficult. 

6. Once the water is almost completely evaporated, remove the pot from the stove and pour the contents on to a parchment paper lined baking pan. Spread the nuts out on the pan to keep them from sticking together. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before eating and allow for about 5-10 minutes of cooling before transferring them to a container. 

Oktoberfest Review - 2015 Oktoberfest in August

2015 Oktoberfest in August

August 14 - 16, 2015
Schwaben Verein, 301 N. Weiland Road, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, United States Admission: $10

Overall: 84%
Authenticity:
Beer:
Food:
Entertainment:
Accessibility:

Food:
  • Leberkaese Dinner
  • Bratwurst or Thueringer Dinner
  • Leverkaese Sandwich
  • Bratwurst Sandwich
  • Thueringer Sandwich
  • Weisswurst with Pretzel
  • Bismarck Herring on a Bun
  • Landjaeger Pair
  • Sauerkraut
  • Potato Salad
  • Pretzel
  • Hog Dog on a Bun
  • Cake
  • Coffee
  • Nachos
  • Blooming Onions
Beer:
  • HB München
  • Hefeweiss
  • Miller Lite
Wine:
  • White
  • Red

Entertainment:
  • Chef Dan and the Appetizers
  • Amazing Mike, One Man Band
  • Alte Kameraden
  • Polkaholics
  • Phenix
  • German Dancers


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Me and Andrea

As always, we kicked off this year’s season with Oktoberfest in August, sponsored by Schwaben Verein of Chicago. Located in Buffalo Grove, IL, this ‘fest has a community feel, complete with local vendors and tons of townspeople. Blending domestic comforts with some authentic German flair, Oktoberfest in August is a nice hybrid event that helps us seamlessly transition from backyard barbecues into Oktoberfest season.

We attended this year’s weekend-long event on Saturday, hoping to catch the official keg tapping and spend some quality time with some of our favorite Oktoberfest bands. By the time we arrived on the scene, the event was hopping. The ample parking facilities were quite full, which we took as a good sign - both for the Schwaben Verein of Chicago who put on the event and for attendees like us dressed in our recently dusted off German finery and eager to launch our favorite season. (Seriously, guys, there were so many people in lederhosen and dirndls. It was quite a sight for sore eyes.)

Me and Scott

At $10, admission for the event is a little more than we’d like to spend just to walk through the gate, but free parking is a nice perk to balance out the cost of admission. Kids under 12 are also free, which would be a nice perk if we had kids under 12.

We grabbed a couple of pretzels and a pitcher of authentic Hofbräu München (quite reasonably priced at $14, we should note) and settled in for the night at a table near the stage. We had worried about the heat - it was August after all - but they had set up large fans that kept the tent at a comfortable temperature. Entertainment was already in full swing, and we were thrilled to grab a spot so close to the Alte Kameraden Band. The other attendees were equally impressed by the German music and the traditional dancers who accompanied the band. Not long after we arrived, a snake dance was announced, and many people - including Backyard Oktoberfest’s own Scott - were happy to join in.

However, the downside of such engaging entertainment is that we ended up missing the keg tapping entirely. We were expecting a formal announcement, but there wasn’t one. The scheduled time for the keg tapping came and went without any additional fanfare, which was a disappointment because we specifically came that day to check it out. In the future, we would recommend/appreciate a formal announcement or some other way of catching people’s attention. The keg tapping is an important part of any Oktoberfest celebration, and we were bummed to have missed it.

The food and beverage offerings at Oktoberfest in August are a bit of a mixed bag. They serve plain hot dogs, blooming onions, and nachos in addition to traditional German offerings such as leberkäse, thueringer, and landjaeger. In a similar blend of the domestic and imported, they serve Miller Lite as well as Hofbrau München and hefeweiss. We at Backyard Oktoberfest have mixed feelings about this menu. We recognize that some attendees might be scared off by exotic menu items, so it’s nice that they offer some carnival-type foods for less adventurous diners. But at the same time, we like to strive for cultural immersion at events like these. You can get nachos anywhere; you can only get landjaeger at Oktoberfest. That said, after several pitchers of beer, we did find ourselves in line for nachos only to be bitterly disappointed when we learned that they had sold out. We ended up with a blooming onion, which unfortunately suffered from an unbalanced ratio of onion to bloom. We learned our lesson. Next year, we’ll stick to traditional Oktoberfest foods.

Scott doing the snake

By the time the Polkaholics took the stage at 8:00, the crowd had already started clearing out. We have a couple of theories about why this happened. It could be that most of the attendees had been there since the gates opened at 1:00, so they had already put in a full day of Oktoberfest-ing. Alternatively, it could be that the patrons of Oktoberfest in August are not a late-night bunch. Many of the attendees fell into the over-50 set, and as much as we hate to generalize, maybe high-energy polka just isn’t their jam. The Polkaholics are a rockin’ good time, but it is a stark shift from the more traditional German music that started the evening. We’re big fans of the band, so we were glad to see them play, but it would have been nice if more people had stayed through their set.

Overall, Oktoberfest in August is a fine event. It’s not the most authentic event we attend, but it’s always a fun time with a good-natured crowd. We’re always excited to check it out.


Full Band
Full Band

Reviewed By: Jessica Jones

Ceremonial Oktoberfest Barrel

Ceremonial Oktoberfest Barrel

At noon on opening day of Oktoberfest, the Lord Mayor taps a Spaten barrel at the Schottenhamel Tent and shouts to a crowd of thousands “O’zapft is!” (It's tapped). After this ceremonial tapping all the tents are allowed to start selling beer and Oktoberfest has officially started. Having a ceremonial Oktoberfest barrel at your party adds an element of authenticity as well as a fun way to kick off your event. 

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