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. So grab a stein, pull on some lederhosen and say Prost!, the German way.
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.
In Deerwood, Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge draws 5,000 people to its annual event in late October. Other cities that regularly host Oktoberfest celebrations include Shakopee, Pelican Rapids and Frazee. In addition, several of Minnesota's craft breweries have gotten in on the fun, including Voyageur Brewing in Grand Marais, Roundhouse in Brainerd, Goat Ridge in New London and Beaver Island Brewing in St. Cloud.
Some of these celebrations are family friendly, while others are for the 21+ crowd, so be sure to check out the events' websites before heading out.
Visit the events calendar for a full list of celebrations around the state.