If you have read the About section of this website I mention going to an Oktoberfest event the week after I returned from Munich. The event I attended was the 2010 Naper Settlement Oktoberfest. I am happy to report that the 2011 Naper Settlement Oktoberfest was much better than in 2010. I went to this year's event with lowered expectations because of my previous disappointment. My father and I went on Friday and arrived only a little after they opened. I purchased my tickets in advance online for $8 and they had a guestlist at the ticket booth which made it easy to get into the event. The event is featured on the grounds of Naper Settlement and like most Oktoberfest celebrations was inside a big tent. The smell of German food was a great sign upon first walking in. My Chef Catering provided the food. I had a pretzel and bratwurst. The prices were reasonable but were even better towards the end of the night when items went on sale 50%. To wash down the food Schamberger Brothers distributor offered two authentic beers, Spaten and Hofbräu Oktoberfest. Beer was $6 but for $4 you could get a commemorative mug and receive $1 off beer refills. Sadly though, the mug was only 16 ounces and not a liter. This became a slight problem later on in the evening when beers started going down too quickly and I had to keep getting up to get a refill. For entertainment, I was happy to be greeted by the German oompah band Die Musikmeisters upon first walking up to the event. Unfortunately, they only performed for two hours and that was the end of German music. The Almost Brothers and Prodigal Son were entertaining but from here on out the event seemed more like a fall festival rather than an Oktoberfest. Luckily, the beer was freely flowing and my friends and I were having a good time which in the end is really all that matters. Parking for the event is rather abundant. Naperville Central High School had a home football game that evening which made things a little more difficult but we didn't have to worry about parking because we were dropped off. Overall, I am happy with the improvements from 2010 and I hope that they improve even more for 2012 when I return.
Me and Eric at the Naper Settlement Oktoberfest
Me and Kristin at the Naper Settlement Oktoberfest
The Plano Oktoberfest was an unexpected find. My buddy Eric's sister lived near Plano and recommended coming out to their Oktoberfest. I went into the event knowing nothing and left with a great sense of enjoyment. This Oktoberfest greatly resembled a lot of the core features of Munich's Oktoberfest. The event is located in Downtown Plano right on Main Street inside the big tent which is hard to miss. Parking was relatively easy to find and it was free. The event admission was $10 but with the admission you received a commemorative plastic liter stein. This stein could be filled up at the event for $10. The atmosphere in the tent was great. Although my friend and I were among only a few who dressed up for the event it seemed like other guests were enjoying the Oktoberfest atmosphere. The night we attended the Johnny Wagner Band was performing. The Johnny Wagner Band is very authentic and highly entertaining. They played traditional German music but also catered to the masses by playing popular American songs. This type of entertainment mimicked the entertainment found in Munich. Despite having banners for a number of Munich breweries the only beer offered was from the Two Brothers Brewery. They did offer an Oktoberfest-style lager called Atom Smasher. This beer was a little more potent than your average Oktoberfest beer clocking in around 7.7% compared to the usual 6.0%. Although not being from Munich it was a worthy brew that accompanied the food well. Speaking of food, the event is catered by The Wurst Kitchen of Plano which offers a number of fresh sausages and quality meats. The food was delicious and fit the event well. I enjoyed a regular bratwurst, a kicker bratwurst which had just the right amount of spice, and some schnitzel.The only thing that that I didn't enjoy too much was the Plano High School Marching Band's performance. I have no problem with marching bands in general but to have a full marching band perform under the tent was a little much. Overall though, good beer, good food and great entertainment made this Oktoberfest one that I am looking forward to revisiting next year. I would highly recommend this event even if you live in Chicago it is worth the drive.