Oktoberfest originated in 1810 as a celebration of Bavarian culture. Wars, financial troubles and epidemics have canceled or subdued past Oktoberfest celebrations, and COVID-19 is responsible this time around.
But similar to past years, the 200-year-old tradition lives on through celebrations both at home and around the state.
(Safe) events to visit
The traditional town of Hermann, Missouri, is home to some of the richest German experiences in the state. In addition to Oktoberfest, Hermann also hosts other festivals that celebrate the town’s heritage, such as Wurstfest, a weekend dedicated to sausage-making.
Oktoberfest, Hermann’s most popular celebration, attracted as many as 30,000 visitors a day in previous years. Tammy Bruckerhoff, Hermann’s tourism director, says this year’s October events will be spaced throughout town and at businesses outside city limits. “You will see some visitors in shops, some in museums, some in restaurants and some enjoying music on a patio at a winery, brewery or distillery,” she says. “There’s lots of outdoor spaces to enjoy and social distance.”
Food to eat at home
Over 7 million liters of beer were consumed at last year’s Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, so it’s safe to say that one of the easiest ways to engage in this seasonal tradition is to get some beer. In Columbia, Günter Hans offers growlers, a four-pint jug of beer, throughout October. If you’re looking for a more modest amount, The Heidelberg serves German beer on tap throughout the month.
If food is what interests you, there are a few Oktoberfest staples that you can easily get at the grocery store or take to-go. Würstl, or sausages, are prepared in a variety of ways, and bretzel, or pretzel, is traditionally a popular complement to beer. (Who would’ve guessed?) The Heidelberg has a German wurst plate that features bratwurst and knackwurst from Swiss Meat in Hermann.
You might not be able to travel far this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a memorable Oktoberfest. All you need is good company, good food and probably a fair amount of beer. ￼