Oktoberfests Celebrate German Food & Fun

By Erica Wacker

Oktoberfest at Ruttger's collage, Deerwood
Oktoberfest at Ruttger's, Deerwood

Much like you don't have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, you don't have to be German to take part in Oktoberfest. This 200-year-old Bavarian tradition has grown far beyond its origins in Munich, with multiple celebrations held right here in Minnesota.

Oktoberfest New Ulm_square
New Ulm Oktoberfest

The biggest Oktoberfest in the state is in New Ulm, which was settled by German immigrants in 1854. Though this heritage is honored year-round, the celebration is at its peak during the two weekends of Oktoberfest. Polka and other bands keep the atmosphere lively, and kegs of locally brewed Schell's beer are tapped every night at 7 p.m.

Other entertainment includes horse-drawn trolley rides, specialty shops and food vendors downtown, and tours and other activities at Morgan Creek Vineyard and Schell's Brewery. Don't leave town before visiting the 45-foot-tall musical glockenspiel or the Hermann the German monument.

In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, many Oktoberfest celebrations kick off starting in mid-September. In Stillwater, Oktoberfest at the Gasthaus has German bands, food and beer under a festival tent. The Mill City Museum in Minneapolis hosts its annual Oktoberfest in late September, with activities inside the museum and on the grounds. Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit Oktoberfest takes place every weekend mid-September to mid-October, and Saint Paul Oktoberfest is held at the Historic Schmidt Brewery in mid-September.

Other cities hosting Oktoberfests include Shakopee, Pelican Rapids and Frazee. In Deerwood, Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge expects 5,000 people at its annual event in late October.

Visit the events calendar for a full list of celebrations around the state.