Not everyone is able to leave the Chicago area and make it to Oktoberfest in Germany; however, there is a similar yet less intense street festival in Chicago called Mayfest or Maifest. Every spring the festival kicks off the Chicago summer street fests in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. This year I joined fellow blogger and twitter pal Chicago Sean.
Each year it seems this festival gets more and more crowded. Walking back from it on Friday night I overheard one lady complaining that she had moved into the heart of yuppieville. If crowds are not your thing then try to hit the festival before the masses really take over on Friday and Saturday night. They open at noon on both Friday and Saturday, so early is best in order to get some elbow room.
Underneath the beer tent they have a fun band playing such German classics as “Roll out the barrel,” “Ein Prosit,” and “Take me home country roads.” John Denver’s real first name was John Deutschendorf, and a crowd favorite, so the song does fit in.
The festival also serves giant salty pretzels, bratworst with sauerkraut and potato salad, and of course lots of beer. Save your cups as there is a discount on refills. Imported German beer is $10.00 for a large stein and Pabst Blue Ribbon goes for $8.00. The imported beer is from Hofbräuhaus München.
It may sound strange that Mayfest should be in June, but the festival celebrates the coming of spring not necessarily the month. It really does not matter when they have the celebration because in Chicago there is no spring.
For those not content to pack up the beer steins at closing time on 10pm on Friday and 11pm on Saturday there is the German Brauhaus up the street on Lincoln where one can continue the copious amount of drinking and listening to German music.
I recently read a blog post about Chicago by Bootsnall which gave 9 reasons for visiting Chicago. One of the items was because of the great street festivals and another reason was for the ethnic neighborhoods. Mayfest combines the two with a street festival that celebrates German heritage and beer.
If you missed Mayfest this year do not fret. In September there is a German-American Fest at the same location from September 9-12. The other alternative is to visit the Chicago Brauhaus where they advertise it is always Oktoberfest or one can do the real adventurous option and go to Munich in October for the real beer festival.
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