PHOTOS: Record Crowds Pack Over-the-Rhine for 22nd Bockfest Celebration

It is estimated that well over 30,000 people attended this year’s Bockfest celebrations in historic Over-the-Rhine – shattering previous attendance records.

Cincinnati’s Bockfest is the largest and longest running such festival in the world. Its history, however, is rooted in Bavaria. It is traditionally understood that Bavarian monks would brew bock beer and consume it and it only during times of fasting – typically around Easter or Lent.

As is custom, this year’s festivities were kicked off with The Bockfest Parade and the ceremonious delivery of the first keg of bock beer to be tapped at Bockfest Hall. The following 21 photos are a sampling of the opening parade that took place late Friday afternoon.

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Check out 5chw4r7z’s photos for even more views from around Bockfest this weekend.

Christkindlmarkt Returns for Three Full Weekends This Holiday Season

Organizers are bringing the Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt back for its second holiday season this year, starting Thanksgiving weekend and operating each weekend until December 15.

Last year’s Christkindlmarkt took place every weekend on Fountain Square. This year the festive seasonal marketplace will spend its first weekend on Fountain Square and then move for its final two weekends to Essen Strasse on the south side of Findlay Market in historic Over-the-Rhine.

“It was decided to move the Christkindlmarkt to Findlay Market for the following two weekends because it is the most iconic market place in the city, and is representative of Cincinnati’s German culture,” explained Lisa Bambach, marketing and creative director for Cincideutsch. “It is a link not only to Cincinnati’s German past, but also to the vibrant German-American culture which continues to permeate the city today.”

Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt
Visitors at Cincinnati’s inaugural Christkindlmarkt on Fountain Square in 2012. Photograph by Paige Malott.

Christkindlmarkt have been a holiday tradition in town centers throughout Germany and Austria for hundreds of years.

“It is a place for people to get together with family and friends to enjoy the seasonal weather and celebrate the holidays,” explained Olaf Scheil, a native of Lübeck, Germany and president and co-founder of Cincideutsch. “We are thrilled to be able to bring this tradition to the people of Cincinnati for the second year in a row.”

After more than 15,000 people visited last year, Scheil expects a similar number of visitors to come and enjoy the Christkindlmarkt this season. To help keep things interesting and active, organizers have coordinated live music, glass blowing, holiday sweets and baked goods, drink, decorations and crafts for sale within half-timbered houses.

In addition to the European baked goods, a hot spiced wine called Glühwein is also considered to be a holiday favorite amongst visitors. And in Cincinnati and German fashion, there will also be plenty of beer to go around.

“Glühwein is something I look forward to making each year since I first tried it in Switzerland,” Bambach confessed. “The aroma of the spices reminds me of Christmas just like the smell of pumpkin makes me think of Thanksgiving. It is a consistent feature at Christkindlmarkt in Europe, no matter which city you visit.”

Cincinnati’s Christkindlmarkt is sponsored by Christian Moerlein Brewing Company and will kick off in coordination with Macy’s Light Up The Square and DCI’s Downtown Dazzle on November 29 through December 1. The seasonal market will then move to Findlay Market December 6-8 and December 13-15. Both locations will have heaters to help keep visitors warm on cold days.

“We received both positive and negative feedback from 2012, and we have worked diligently to improve visitors’ experiences based on those comments,” Bambach noted. “The market is completely organized and run by volunteers, and in our second year we wanted to expand while also ensuring the growth was manageable.”

The Christkindlmarkt will be open from 11am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday, and 11am to 5pm on Sunday at Fountain Square. The market will then be open in coordination with normal Findlay Market hours when it moves there for its final two weekends.

GUEST EDITORIAL: Absence of Language Programs Will Be Felt Across Cincinnati

On November 5, constituents in the Oak Hills Local School District will make a very significant choice: To pass or kill an emergency levy (Issue 20). This decision will impact the well-being of not only the school, but of the future of Cincinnati’s economy.

I make this claim due to the threat to the district’s German program. The Lakota School district has already quietly killed their language program, and now Oak Hills’ is under fire.

Oak Hills’ German program is the second largest in the region and strong in college placement. Students routinely advance to 200-level courses upon entering college and shine amongst other German programs in the city, achieving first place three years running at UC’s German Day language competition. Should Issue 20 fail, Oak Hills will remove German from Delhi and Rapid Run Middle Schools and one of the three remaining German instructors at Oak Hills High School.

Oak Hills High School
Oak Hills High School is one of the largest in Ohio, but the district’s German language program, the second largest in the region, may be at risk. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Why does German matter? As you probably know, Cincinnati has a strong German heritage. What you may not know is that Germany’s influence remains not only in our last names, our festivals, and the foods we eat, but is strongly represented in our business sector with over 100 German-owned companies in Cincinnati.

This translates to local jobs in industries like engineering, banking, chemistry, and medicine. Many of our leading local businesses, including P&G and General Electric, have global offices in German-speaking regions because they are some of the strongest centers of innovation and economic power in Europe.

By removing German from our middle schools and high schools, we deprive our future business leaders of exposure to a key foreign language when they are developmentally most inclined to learn a second language. We deprive them of the ability to navigate through cultural differences when dealing with their future colleagues. We deprive our city of the ability to maintain ties to the strongest economies in the European market, losing our ability to compete in regional and global market places.

Programs like Oak Hills’ are being cut all over the city. Remember that curricula are determined at the local level by voters like you. Whether you live in the Oak Hills School District or not, consider the significant impact of your vote when going to the ballots on November 5. Support your local language programs to provide our middle and high school students the tools they need to succeed and to foster the growth of Cincinnati.

Issue 20 by the Numbers:
Oak Hills School District has the third lowest total costs per pupil and administrative rates in Hamilton County at $9,166. This is $1,341 lower than the state average and $2,367 lower than the Hamilton County average.

It is the first time in 16 years that the school district has requested that voters decide on an increase in revenue for operations.

This $4.82 million operating levy translates into a $168.72 per year increase to homeowners on $100,000 of assessed property valuation.

Lisa Bambach is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning where she studied graphic design. She currently works as the Marketing and Creative Director of Cincideutsch, a local German language and culture organization. If you would like to submit a guest editorial of your own, please contact UrbanCincy at editors@urbancincy.com.

PHOTOS: 2013 Bockfest Turned Out the Crowds on Busy Weekend

Bockfest celebrated another great year of spring-time and beer celebrations over the past weekend. Record crowds reportedly turned out for the festival’s 21st year, and UrbanCincy was there to “cover” it all on your behalf.

For those not familiar with some of the otherwise peculiar traditions of Cincinnati’s lesser-known, seasonal beer festival, let us explain.

The lead goat is named Schnitzel, and the reason goats play such a prominent role in Bockfest activities is because Bock is the German word for goat, and those references to goats are what give bock beers their names.

The reason you see a bunch of monks, or people dressed as monks, walking around is because bock beers have historically been associated with special religious occasions, like  Lent, and Bavarian monks were known for brewing and consuming bock beers as a source of nutrition during times of fasting.

The following 36 photographs were taken by Jake Mecklenborg during the annual Bockfest Parade and at Grammer’s, Neons Unplugged and Bockfest Hall at the Christian Moerlein Brewery. Click on any of the images to view its full size. You can also click through the entire 2013 Bockfest photo gallery by clicking on the first image and scrolling through the collection.

Germans dominate ethnic makeup of Ohio cities

What may be unsurprising to many locals, new U.S. Census numbers confirm that German-Americans make up the largest ethnic group in the Cincinnati region. Analysis shows that approximately 28% of Cincinnatians responded that have German roots, which is more than Ohio’s two other major cities (Cleveland 17%; Columbus 23%). More from The Business Journals:

German-Americans form the largest ethnic group in the United States — 45.7 million persons. But their prominence is even more striking when viewed at the local level. On Numbers has analyzed ancestry data for every metropolitan and micropolitan area covered by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey. German-Americans are the biggest ethnic group in more than three-fifths of those markets — 580 of 942.

Moerlein, Paulaner bringing massive festival tent to Cincinnati’s central riverfront for Oktoberfest

Cincinnati has long been home of the world’s largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Munich, and it will soon be getting larger. At the 2012 Oktoberfest Zinzinnati festival, the Moerlein Lager House will partner with Germany’s Paulaner Brewery to create the ÜberDrome.

The ÜberDrome will be a massive Oktoberfest tent covering the entire event lawn at Smale Riverfront Park. It will connect with the biergarten at the Moerlein Lager House and will create a space for approximately 3,000 festival goers.

“This ‘über’ fest tent, filled with Munich-style tables and benches, will span the entire length and width of the Schmidlapp Event Lawn, adjacent to the Lager House in Smale Riverfront Park,” said Greg Hardman, Managing Partner of the Moerlein Lager House and CEO of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company. “The Oktoberfest beer will be flowing, there’ll be endless platters of delicious German dishes and the celebration will go on and on!”

The Moerlein Lager House will add a new element to Cincinnati’s annual Oktoberfest celebration when it introduces the ÜberDrome in 2012. Photograph by Randy A. Simes for UrbanCincy.

Paulaner is a famed German brewery that is well known for its enormous festival tent in the Theresienwiese during Munich’s Oktoberfest. Hardman says that the brewery was looking for a perfect location to present their Munich-style Oktoberfest celebration in Cincinnati, and determined that the central riverfront was just that.

The ÜberDrome will feature German-style pretzels, specially made Hudepohl Beer Wurst and other sausages, wiener schnitzel and strudel plus a wide selection of Paulaner and Moerlein beers including the Paulaner Oktoberfest Weisn, which was the original beer sold at Munich’s Oktoberfest.

The festival tent will also include a performance stage in the center of the space that will feature a variety skits, comedy, games, and music by Bavarian-style bands like Alpen Echos, Pros’t, and Heuboden Musikanten who will fly in from Germany for the event.

“This has been a life’s dream of mine to bring something like this to Cincinnati and, like the Moerlein Lager House itself, we are shooting for the ‘WOW’ factor,” explained Hardman.

Cincinnati’s 2012 Oktoberfest celebrations will take place from Friday, September 21 through Sunday, September 23. The ÜberDrome (map) will be open on these days from 4pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday.