CUYAHOGA FALLS — The annual celebration of German culture and heritage returns to its September schedule this year in a revamped downtown.
The 39th annual Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest is Sept. 21 from 5-11 p.m.; Sept. 22 from noon-11 p.m.; and Sept. 23 from noon to 8 p.m. along the Front Street Mall.
Last year, the event was renamed Sommerfest and took place in July due to the upcoming construction work to reopen Front Street. The yearly festival is returning to its early fall time table in a new downtown with the road reopened.
"We’re looking forward to it," said Oktoberfest Committee Chairman Billy Harding. "It should be a good time."
Kelli Crawford-Smith, director of the city’s Neighborhood Excellence, Communications and Community Outreach Department, said Front Street will be closed between Portage Trail and Broad Boulevard throughout the weekend for the festival.
There will be German/polka and tribute bands performing on two different stages throughout the three-day event. The Buck Naked Band will perform on the Biergarten stage (the Falls River Square amphitheater) on Sept. 21, while Disco Inferno will offer up some groovy tunes on the same spot on Sept. 22. This is the first time that the Buck Naked Band has performed at Oktoberfest, according to Harding. German polka bands will perform on the Biergarten and German Central Stage, near the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center.
Harding noted, "We have a lot more authentic German-style food," as well as beer.
There will also be keg rolling races and beer stein races throughout the weekend. Football fans can catch a glimpse of the weekend’s games on a television set up in the Falls River Square pavilion. Ohio State will play Tulane on Sept. 22 at 3:30 p.m. Harding noted the Cleveland Browns will play on Thursday of that week, but attendees can stop in and watch other NFL games on the TV on Sept. 23.
Oktoberfest Committee members will be wearing identification and the event headquarters will be on the south end of the mall. Attendees can purchase souvenirs and official event beer mugs at the headquarters.
Harding noted the event committee is all-volunteer and added much of the money taken in at Oktoberfest is donated to city charities such as the Falls Cancer Club, the Riverfront YMCA and for scholarships for Cuyahoga Falls and Woodridge high school students.
"We try and keep [the donations] all local," added Harding. "Throughout the past 39 years, we’ve given over $1 million to organizations in Cuyahoga Falls and the surrounding area."
Parking and admission are free.
For more information, visit www.oktoberfestcfo.com/ or go to the event’s Facebook page at "Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.