Hoi, Hoi, Hoi

My favorite of all the Cleveland international festivals is Oktoberfest.  Around Northeast Ohio, late August and early September bring about a number of celebrations in different communities and German cultural centers.  But the big one takes place at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds over Labor Day weekend.

Sand sculpture from local artist Carl Jara

German bands and dancing groups entertain in the makeshift beer gardens, while festival goers eat their wurst, pretzels and strudel.

Fred Ziwich’s International Sound Machine performs in the main tent

Beer lovers can also sample and vote for their favorite beer in the Oktoberfest Microbrew Competition.  This year’s winners included Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest, Goose Island’s Summertime Ale, and Brew Kettle’s Smoked Marzen.

The centerpiece of the festival, and something to be seen at least once, is the festival’s Glockenspiel.

At the top of every hour, members of the STV Bavaria Schuhplattler group (slap-dancing as most of us know it) ring in the hour and perform little skits.  After they perform, they throw out beads, hats, key chains, and other goodies to the crowd below.

But after four days and 35 Glockenspiel performances, the weekend ends.  “Ein Prosit” still ringing in my head, the next Oktoberfest can’t come soon enough.

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