Oktoberfest kick-off in CIncinnati

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -  "This is a great problem to have," said Chris Kemper with the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. "We have a great weekend of events in downtown with the Bengals game and a full-slate of events at Oktoberfest."

Can you ever have too many people in downtown Cincinnati? No, the Chamber said, when there's great football and the second biggest party in the world!

This is the first time they've ever done this in the Oktoberfest 35-year history. They offered folks a sneak peek on Friday. There is lots of German food, German beer and of course, German music.

And with so much going on this weekend, Oktoberfest and the Bengals on Sunday, parking is going to be at a premium.

Folks had better get familiar with the posted 'no-parking' signs, because finding any kind of parking this weekend could get interesting, especially on Sunday.

"You might consider parking north of 5th Street, north of Oktoberfest, and kinda leave the parking south of Oktoberfest to the folks going to the football game," Kemper said.

At 6pm Friday night, the city shut-down 5th Street, from Race to Broadway.

"And that is when we start setting-up," Kemper said. "It is a huge undertaking to overnight, turn 5th Street, into a major thoroughfare and turn it into the biggest Bavarian buffet in the country."

And not just in the US, "Zinzinnati" ranks only second to Munich, Germany, as having the biggest and best Oktoberfest in the world.

"We're expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of half a million people here," Kemper said. "Munich, they're actually celebrating their 200th anniversary this year, we're celebrating our 35th anniversary, so maybe in 165 years we can catch 'em."

One of the best kept parking secrets is inside the garage right on Fountain Square. Just for the weekend, part of Vine will allow two-way traffic, so coming south on 6th Street, you can make a left turn onto Vine Street to access the garage.

"You come up and you're right in the middle of the party," Kemper said.

From racing weiner dogs, to eating weiner schnitzel, the brats will be the center of attention Saturday.

"The first-ever world bratwurst-eating championship," Kemper said. "This is a sanctioned competition, we have the number-one competitive eater in the world Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut coming for that."

Unlike traditional hot dog-eating contests, where it's eating dog, bun and all, the bratwurst eating competition is bun-free.

"Joey's coming-off a victory where he consumed 47 burritos in ten minutes last week in New Mexico," Kemper said. "So we'll see if he can transition from Mexican to German food."

Many of the booths remained open until midnight Friday night. The official kick-off ceremony starts at 11:30 Saturday morning.

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