As we enter the off-season for Oktoberfest I just wanted to reflect back on our 2012 Oktoberfest season. This was the inaugural year for Backyard Oktoberfest and it is one we will never forget. I was glad to have met so many amazing and wonderful people throughout my travels and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
This year I attended 13 Oktoberfest events mainly throughout the Chicagoland area. I was happy to have been able to attend the Soulard Oktoberfest as well and break out of Illinois. Time and money are obviously factors that limit our ability to visit every Oktoberfest every year and that is where we would love for you to become involved.
The absolute goal of Backyard Oktoberfest is to become the go-to community for Oktoberfest enthusiasts. This site is designed for you and we would love to have your input on what you would like to see to help make it better than ever. We would even like to have you join us in adding content by writing beer, restaurant, event or Oktoberfest reviews.
In this off season, we plan on doing a huge site revision and adding even more content including more beer reviews, recipes, information for hosting your own Oktoberfest, more information about Munich’s Oktoberfest and who knows what else. Once again, your feedback is highly encouraged. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to the site please contact us.
Once again, thanks to everyone who helped make this Oktoberfest season one to remember! We are already looking forward to 2013!
The St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest was the first stop on my Oktoberfest tour of Chicago. Aptly enough, this is actually called Oktoberfest Chicago. I took the Metra into the city and got off the Brown Line at Wellington and it was only a few short blocks to the church. I made a pit stop first to meet up with my buddy and his wife who were coming along with me to the fest.
Admission was reasonably priced at $5 and there was an option to buy a commemorative glass Oktoberfest Chicago mug which I of course could not pass up. The Oktoberfest is divided amongst three parts: one being in the basement of the church, the second being under the big tent in the back parking lot and the third is the street outside the event which was blocked off and had a bunch of vendors.
We spent the majority of the time under the big tent but first it was off to get beer. I surprisingly started off with a Bud Light but that was mainly because I didn’t want to get drunk too fast because today was a marathon of drinking (I went to Prost! after this then off to Zanetoberfest). That changed quickly because Bud Light is pretty much water when compared to good German beer. Speaking of, there were two German options: the first being Beck’s Oktoberfest which is alright but luckily they had Warsteiner Oktoberfest to make up for it although they ran out of it quickly.
They also had a number of different food options varying from your typical carnival fare to good German favorites. Unfortunately, I did not partake in any of the food at the event but most of it smelled and looked delicious. The first band we saw was A Thousand Julys. They were a lot of fun but not German in the least but they really got the crowd started. They played a number of different hit pop songs from the past and present. I would like to see them again but not at an Oktoberfest.
The next band that played was the infamous Polkaholics. They are a polka band that does not play with typical polka instruments. They perform all of their songs on the guitar and drums. They are another crowd favorite and how could you not enjoy them. They put a rock edge on your classic polka songs and their own songs will have you singing along right away…Just say yes to Oktoberfest!
Regrettably, I had to depart from the St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest after The Polkaholics finished their set at 5:00p to get to Prost! and Zanetoberfest. This will be an Oktoberfest I will try my best to attend next year. The crowd was a lot of fun and there were actually a number of others dressed up in lederhosen which has been pretty uncommon at other Oktoberfest celebrations I have been to this year. If you’re in Chicago, don’t miss out on this fun event.
This is the second year that I have attended the Plano Oktoberfest and this year was as fun as last year. Sadly, I had to drink less since I was the designated driver but that was because my own Oktoberfest was the next day and I wanted to make sure I would actually wake up in time to finish setting up and get the kegs; but enough about that, on to the Plano Oktoberfest.
Just like last year, the Plano Oktoberfest was held in Downtown Plano near the train station under the big tent. They also had one liter mugs to drink from and the food was catered by the Wurst Kitchen. A new addition was the beer. This year they offered beer from Hacker-Pschorr instead of Two Brothers. While I like Two Brothers a lot, I was very happy to see Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest on tap.
The crowd was not as big as last year; then again, it was a Friday night. The Happy Wanders provided the entertainment for the evening. They were a fun little three piece band that played a number of polkas and other German favorites. They were also on the ball playing Ein Prosit periodically throughout the evening.
Like I said before, the food was once again provided by the Wurst Kitchen in Plano. I opted for the kicker bratwurst and schnitzel sandwich. Sound familiar? That is the same meal I had last year. I would have got the regular bratwurst but I had 100 of them ordered for my own party.
After eating, my friends and I enjoyed the general conversation that you have at your table but then it was time to get on the dance floor. This year we were able to join in the chicken dance competition. I’m not a big fan of the chicken dance and it isn’t played at Oktoberfest in Munich but for some reason America loves it. I will give it one thing and that is it makes a lot of people get up and out dancing and it does increase the energy in the place. They had competitions for kids and adults. My friend’s brother-in-law won one of four chicken dance trophies that are given to the winners.
The whole evening was a lot of fun but it did seem to die quickly. The Happy Wanders ended their set around 10:00pm and the tent seemed to be mostly empty. We also had to leave at that time because we had more Oktoberfest to be had the next day at my own party; more about that in another post.
The Plano Oktoberfest is still one of my favorites in the area but it has dropped a few spots but that is mainly due to it being an hour from my house. Also, I was really looking forward to seeing the Johnny Wagner Band again but they were playing Saturday night.
The Glendale Heights Oktoberfest was almost essentially Oktoberfest to a T. The tent, tables, atmosphere, food and they even had tableside servers. The only thing this Oktoberfest was missing was the music.
My friend Adam and I went on Saturday, September 14th around 6:00pm. The parking for the event was more than ample. They utilized a large field next to the tent and there were a number of workers directing traffic and telling people where to park. They had a really large tent with both indoor and outdoor seating on authentic biergarten tables! We were also lucky to have a $2 off admission coupon which was available on the website.
The seating was very similar to that in Munich. The tables were beer garden style, open seating where ever you would like (except in VIP of course). We found a seat near the back because we knew two more people were showing up later.
It took a little time to get our waiter but things were rather busy in the tent. Once we did get him we each ordered a beer with a souvenir glass stein. They had half-liter Hofbräu or Weihenstephan glasses for $15 that included the beer. Refills were $7 which was the same cost of a regular beer.
Along with the beer, we each bought a large Bavarian pretzel with mustard for $5 each. The beer was delicious but the pretzel could have been better. It was about the size of a regular dinner plate which I don’t consider to be “large” compared to the pretzels in Munich and it was over salted and dry. The mustard was good and did help with finishing the pretzel. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything else to eat at the event but the menu was appealing. It included Pork Shank Dinner with sauerkraut and dumplings, Half Roasted Chicken Dinner with German potato salad and many other authentic Oktoberfest dishes.
The food was provided by the Schnitzel Platz German restaurant off North Ave. in Glendale Heights. They also were the main sponsor and it showed because the decorations in the tent were superb. The whole atmosphere of the tent was very reminiscent of Oktoberfest in Munich and the waiters and waitresses walking around were also a very nice touch.
The only real problem I had with the event was the music. When we showed up it seemed like the last German band just finished playing. Between sets they did play Oktoberfest music but then the rest of the bands for the night were nowhere close to Oktoberfest. The next band was a Jazz band then the headlining act was Rico, a band inspired by “innovative rock, soul, jazz, afro-Cuban, blues, funk, reggae and hip-hop pioneers.” The band was good but not right at all for the event.
All in all, the event was a lot of fun and so far this year, has brought me the closest to Oktoberfest in Munich. I hope to come back next year to the same atmosphere with hopefully better music. If that is the case then the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest will soon become my favorite Oktoberfest in the area.
Lions Park, 320 E. Wildwood Ave, Villa Park, Illinois, United States
Mostly carnival food, burgers, hot dogs, fried food, pizza
Samuel Adams Octoberfest
Frank "K" Duo and Company
The Sting Rays
The Villa Park Oktoberfest is not one I recommend on this website and with good reason, it is not really an Oktoberfest. This year they did delight us with a great little polka band called Frank "K" Duo and Company. I have them listed as a local band for Illinois and they were a lot of fun despite the threat of rain (which thankfully didn't come). They played a number of popular polkas as well as polka versions of popular songs. Fran was having a great time wandering throughout the tables and talking to people between and during songs all while not skipping a beat. They were dressed up in traditional clothing and put on a great show.
As for food, beer and the rest, the Villa Park Oktoberfest is nothing more than a local carnival. They have a number of rides and carnival food. I had a 10" Italian sausage for $7 which was actually pretty good. To wash down the sausage I had a couple Samuel Adams Octoberfest's which were reasonable priced at $5 each.
The only reason I came out was to see Frank "K" and Company and it was well worth it. The other bands are good bands but not what I would expect for an Oktoberfest. If Villa Park has another good German act in their Oktoberfest next year I'll probably make it out. If you are looking for a simple carnival with cover bands this isn't bad but it is not an Oktoberfest.