Oktoberfest in Iowa
I imagine that the nine festivals for Oktoberfest in Iowa are attended by a pretty good chunk of the one million people in the state that claim German heritage. Plus one or two that just want to enjoy the good food and beer on a beautiful fall day. Here are the Iowa Oktoberfests if you fall into either one of those categories:
Last Major Update:
Des Moines Oktoberfest – Des Moines, IA – September 25-26, 2015.
There’s a ceremonial keg tapping, beer maiden contest, stein holding contest, and polka dancing in Des Moines, in addition to the beer gardens and German food. Prizes for those who dress up! The golden keg is generally tapped on Friday at 4 PM. Stein Holding competition and The Brewmile on Saturday. Advance tickets are $7 and includes your two-day admission, mug and first beer. Price is $10 at the door. Location: 101 4th St, Des Moines, IA
Northside Oktoberfest – Iowa City, Iowa – October 3, 2015. Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Includes brewfest with over 500 beers, Sodafest, 14 local food venders, live music, beaked chicked dance, adult contests, a stage with children’s entertainment and a harvest market. Admission to the 17th annual Brewfest is $20 which gets you a .2L Kolsch glass and 8 drink tickets. Additional tickets are $.50 with .1L samples costing from 1 to 4 drink tickets. There is also a $40 ticket option. They indicate tickets for the Brewfest will sell out in advance. Proceeds go to the American Heart Association and the Iowa Children’s Museum. Location: 200 N Linn Street, Iowa City, IA
Amana Oktoberfest – Amana, IA – October 2-4, 2015.
Amana, a national historic landmark built by radical Pietists primarily from Germany, celebrates Oktoberfest with a beer keg tapping (Friday at 2 PM), parade (Saturday), live entertainment, games and activities for both adults (like the keg toss!) and kids (pumpkin toss!). Other contests such as log sawing, brat eating and the timber trek. Sample fudge and caramel at the Chocolatehaus. Free demonstrations at the Woolen Mill. Edelstein Treasures for kids. Festhalle admission is $10 for one day and $15 for two days.
Manning Oktoberfest – Manning, IA – October 10, 2015. German beer tasting, German food, polka music, dance lessons and Hausbarn tours. 5 PM keg tapping with Home Brew contest followed by German music and dancing from 7-10:30 PM.
Location: Hausbarn-Heritage Park, 12196 311th St Manning, IA 51455
Ottumwa Oktoberfest – Ottumwa, IA – September 29 – Oct. 3, 2015
Brats and beer, chicken barbecue, parade, and carnival. The 35th annual Rotary Chicken Barbecue kicks off activities with advance tickets $8. The feature a Kiddie Parade, Oktoberfest Parade, and a marching band competition.
Fort Dodge Oktoberfest – Fort Dodge, IA – September 26, 2015
Music from Malek’s Fishermen and Hairball as headliner. Custom wooden dance floor, German food and German and domestic beers.
Location: Oleson Park Bandshell, 1400 Oleson Park Ave, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Last Year’s Events
Cedar Valley Oktoberfest – Cedar Falls, IA – September 19, 2014
Beer and brats, live music, keg tapping at 4:30 PM on Friday, craft market, adult games (Keg Toss, Stein Hoist, Hammerschlagen and the best authentic dressed) and family fun zone for kids ($1 ride tickets benefit Magical Mix Kids charity). Free admission. Location: Gateway Park, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
Octoberfest & BBQ – Northwood, IA – September 27, 2014
5th annual Oktoberfest BBQ competition also has beer and music. Starts at noon. They will have public BBQ tasting as part of the contest and all you can eat BBQ for $10. On tap are imported German wheat and bock beers. Free inflatables for kids. Proceeds benefit the theatre building. Location: Worth County Fairgrounds, 200 13th St. North, Northwood, IA, 50459
Remsen Oktoberfest – Remsen, IA – October 25, 2014
It’s their 41st annual celebration of the community’s Luxembourg & German heritage. The event historically includes beer keg tapping, all you can eat German feast, and children’s Bavarian costume and dance contest. Always held on the last Saturday in October.
Burlington Lions Club Oktoberfest – Burlington, Iowa – October 4, 2014
The Burlington Iowa Oktoberfest is the annual fundraiser of the Burlington Noon Lions. The event includes authentic German food, beer, live Bavarian music and kids activities (in the afternoon). The website indicates this annual event is held on the first Saturday in October. Kids activities are from 3-4:30PM, live music at 4 and the event ending at 10:30 PM.
Location: Notre Dame School, 702 S. Roosevelt
Ogden Oktoberfest – Ogden, IA – October 5, 2014
There used to be an event in Sherrill at the Black Horse Inn – not sure if it still happens or not. There also used to be a celebration in Adel just west of Des Moines but it is no longer on their commmunity’s list of annual events. The Facebook page for the event is no longer operating, either.
We have just added these maps with the locations of each Oktoberfest. We may not have had the exact location for each Oktoberfest so in some instances we have placed the marker in the general vicinity of the Oktoberfest. Be sure to get specific directions from another source and do not solely rely on our map at the moment. We have also noticed that the markers may not show up on some mobile browsers. We will work to sort out this bug in the future.
Please confirm dates, locations and activities available at the Oktoberfest before going. That’s one reason that we provide a website address when we find one. We attempt to ensure that the information for each Oktoberfest is accurate but there are bound to be a few errors. If you let us know when you find one, we will fix it. In some cases, we may link to the 2014 event when information for 2015 is not available. Do not be fooled.
The festivals listed range in size. Some events may have hundreds of thousands of attendees. Others may have only a handful. We’re sorry that we don’t have more information about attendance numbers at the moment. We will do our best to add this information as time goes on.
Professionalism varies as well. Some Oktoberfests are professional operations with large budgets. Others are local operations run by volunteers. Do your due diligence before making plans to attend so that you know what to expect. We will happily publish information about your experience with any Oktoberfest so that our visitors will be better informed in the future.
Some Oktoberfests are more family friendly than others. If you have small children, look for an Oktoberfest that has activities for kids. Other events start out with family friendly activities and become more adult oriented as it becomes later in the evening.
Not all Oktoberfest celebrations will be authentic German festival experiences. Some may simply be an excuse to drink rather than celebrate German heritage. Some may call themselves Oktoberfest but provide local or seasonal beer rather than authentic German Oktoberfest beer. Be sure to consider the type of celebration that you are looking to attend when you pick your Oktoberfest.
Activities offered at each Oktoberfest varies. Some activities that you may find are parades, keg tapping ceremony, beer gardens, Miss Oktoberfest or costume contests, stein holding contests, bratwurst eating contest, chicken dance, wiener races, keg toss, live German bands and local entertainment, polka dancing and fairground games. Some Oktoberfest events will just have beer and brats.
Please don’t drink and drive. We want everyone to get home safe. Use a designated driver or take public transportation.
Do you run one of the Oktoberfests listed? Feel free to send us additional information and we will add it. We apologize for any errors: send us corrections when you find them!
Also read my list of the largest Oktoberfest parties in the United States for the most popular and attended celebrations of German heritage. You should also check the lists of nearby states that celebrate Oktoberfest: Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
We’ve got some other resources that would help you prepare for Oktoberfest as well. Read about the history of Oktoberfest. Learn about Oktoberfest beer. Find the words to Oktoberfest music. Plan your Oktoberfest outfit. And try cooking some of these Oktoberfest recipes.
Find other fun things to do in Iowa in October: