Oktoberfest Review - 2014 Glendale Heights Oktoberfest

2014 Glendale Heights Oktoberfest

September 12 - 21, 2014
101 East Fullerton Avenue, Glendale Heights, Illinois, United States Admission: $5

Overall: 98%

  • Pork Shank Dinner with sauerkraut and dumplings
  • Half Roasted Chicken Dinner with German potato salad
  • Schnitzel Sandwich with Grilled Onions on a German roll with potato salad
  • German Burger
  • German Bratwurst or Currywurst
  • Footlong Frankfurter on a German roll with mustard
  • Fried Sauerkraut Balls with Honey Mustard
  • Freshly Baked German Pretzel with Mustard
  • Homemade Bread Dumpling with Gravy
  • Homemade German Potato Salad
  • Homemade Bavarian Red Cabbage
  • Homemade Sauerkraut
Kids Menu:
  • Hamburger or Cheeseburger
  • Hot dog
  • Chicken Fingers
  • 6" Cheese Pizza
  • Hofbräu Oktoberfest
  • Weihenstephan Hefe Weiss
  • Schofferfoffer Hefe Weiss
  • German Red - Schlinkhaus Dornfelder
  • German White - Schlinkhaus Riesling
  • German White - Piesporter Spatlese
  • Draft Root Beer
  • Soda
  • Bottled Water

  • Die Lustigen Musikanten - Alpine Thunder
  • Paloma
  • Euro Express
  • The Elmhurst College Jazz Band
  • Strong Arm Contest

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View from stage

The Glendale Heights Oktoberfest remains a local favorite for us here at Backyard Oktoberfest. In fact, last year’s ‘fest was so nice, we attended it twice. Full disclosure: our friends at the Schnitzel Platz invited us out for the full VIP treatment, but the food, entertainment, and atmosphere at the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest are so enchanting that we came back as regular civilians the first chance we got.

Let’s start with the basics. At $5, general admission is a bargain - even more so if you take advantage of their annual Groupon deals, which include pretzels and beer along with admission for two adults. Admission for youngsters 16 and under is free, and so is parking. As is common with other festivals, revelers must use tickets to procure food and beverages, but the friendly staff at the ticket booth will take cash, credit, or debit cards - a welcome change from the cash-only ‘fests we attend each year. Another unique feature of the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest is that it is operational during the week in addition to spanning two weekends. Many ‘fests pop up for one weekend only, so we appreciate the opportunity to get our oompah on during the week. That said, most visitors do take advantage of the extended weekend hours, so if you want to experience a Munich-style crowd, we recommend that you visit then. If you’re into a quieter but still thoroughly enjoyable experience, check it out during the week. Or follow our example and just go twice.

Our favorite part of the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest is the food. Provided by the inestimable Chef Wolfgang and the excellent crew from the Schnitzel Platz, the food is the star of this show. We’ve been to more than one local “Oktoberfest” that features nachos and deep-fried cheese products instead of authentic German food, but the delights that grace the menu at the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest are the real deal. From the giant pork shank (and they do mean “giant.” We easily shared ours among several people at our table) to their eponymous schnitzel to their sauerkraut balls, this food is so deliciously German it might as well be served wrapped in a pair of lederhosen. And the fact that it is delivered by authentically dressed servers is a nice touch. Since we did not bring any children with us, we cannot vouch for the American fare that makes up the children’s menu, but parents can rest easy knowing that they can find hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, and pizza among the more authentic fare.

Macro view of tent

We would like to recommend the VIP package. At $80 per person on Friday and Saturday and $60 from Sunday to Thursday, it may seem like a steep price, but the experience is well worth the investment. In addition to admission and VIP parking, the package guarantees you reserved VIP seating and more food than you’ll know what to do with. For true Oktoberfest geeks like us, preferred seating close to the bands is a big draw. You can still enjoy the entertainment from anywhere inside the tent, but getting front-row seats of alpenhorn players while enjoying an expertly prepared German meat platter is a real treat. The VIP package includes an appetizer plate with pretzels and other German fare in addition to a full dinner and two beverages. As an added bonus, the VIP food is served on real china, which is a classy addition to an already plush experience.

And, of course, the bier - spelled b-i-e-r because, like everything else at the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest, it is delightfully German. They offer Hofbrau Oktoberfest Bier, Weihenstephan Hefe Weiss Bier, and Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Weiss. Anytime we get to drink genuine Oktoberfest beer out of a Maß, we’re pretty happy about it, and the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest is one of the few local ‘fests that lets us do so. Plus, their prices are reasonable. In 2014, $15 got you a half liter of beer plus the glass, and $25 got you the full liter and Maß. Refills of each were available at half-price. If you don’t trust yourself with authentic glassware, 16-ounce plastic cups were $7. There are several stations in the tent that serve bier along with Berghoff root beer, other assorted soft drinks, and water. The tent also features a dedicated wine bar and café.

The only downside to our 2014 Glendale Heights Oktoberfest experience was the contest they were running at the time. They advertised a free trip to Germany, but no one actually won because the rules of the contest were so difficult. Part raffle, part extreme cornhole challenge, this contest was confusing at the time, and the details have faded since we left the tent. But if we recall correctly, it went something like this: the purchase of a Maß granted you a shot to enter the contest by tossing a bean bag into the hole from a short distance. If you made it, you were entered into a raffle. Then, one random contestant was chosen to toss a beanbag from clear across the tent, and the grand prize trip would only be awarded if he or she made it. He or she did not, so the whole thing ended up being anticlimactic and disappointing. Word on the street is they’ve changed the rules for 2015, so we’re eager to see how they’ve improved the odds of some lucky duck winning that trip.

Overall, though, this ‘fest is the one we look forward to the most each year. Authenticity ranks highly at Backyard Oktoberfest, and this is hands-down the most authentic ‘fest in the area. For our money, the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest remains the Oktober-best.

What's left of our VIP appetizer plate
The remainder of our VIP appetizer plate
What's left of our VIP dinner plate
And what was left of our VIP dinner plate (See, I told you it was giant!)
Myself and Parth
Our friend Parth and Scott
Jessica and Andrea
Me and our friend Andrea

Reviewed By: Jessica Jones