Two year ago, Oktoberfest was moved to the Indiana State Fairgrounds and it suffered for it. Luckily, this celebration of German food and culture is back where it belongs in German Park (8600 S. Meridian St.). Shaded by oak and maple trees, the Park is a lovely place for people to listen to music while eating great German food.
For me, it was strange going back. My grandmother, who immigrated to the United States in 1954, was a passionate member in Indianapolis’ German-American community. This is the first Oktoberfest since she passed away last winter. Somehow, visiting German Park and enjoying the tastes of Oktoberfest was like coming home.
If you’re looking for an early snack in the day, the soft pretzels are great. The ones at Oktoberfest are big enough to share with your sweetie. Don't forget a side of mustard; it’s a German cuisine necessity.
Claus' German Sausage and Meat Market (an establishment near and dear to my heart) provided most of the entrees. Their knockwurst was as good as ever, but the real prize was the Frickadellen, a dish I had never tried before. A cross between meatloaf and a hamburger, the Frickadellen is topped with sautéed onions on a Kaiser bun. The patty was super juicy and the onions added a sweetness and complexity to the flavors. It didn't even need condiments, it was that good.
The Damenchor (Indianapolis' German choir for women) sold delicious slices of cake and pie for dessert. Many of the lovely ladies knew my grandmother and I was happy to say hello. The chocolate cake I ate made me happy, too.
There was a variety of beer options, but I went with the Warsteiner Oktoberfest brew, which was mellow with just enough spice to give it a kick. I’m not a big beer drinker, but even I was impressed. Visitors can chose from a smaller glass, a mug or a novelty boot glass. The mug and the boot hold the same amount of beer, but how can you say no to a boot full of beer?
Oktoberfest runs Sept. 9—Sept 12 and tickets are just $5. For more information, visit www.germanparkindy.com.