By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Aug 20, 2019 at 2:01 PM

Slurp up these festival stories packed with vitamins, minerals and everything you need to spike your summer fun. The Summer Festivals Guide is brought to you by Punch Bowl Social. Come on in - it's time we all win at adulting.

Oktoberfest season has begun. And it kicks off this weekend with the seventh annual First Oktoberfest, a fundraising event for the West Milwaukee Lions Club hosted by Kegel’s Inn, 5901 W. National Ave.

The two day street party will take place on National Avenue from 58th Street to 60th Street on Friday, Aug. 23 and Saturday, Aug. 24 featuring live music, traditional dancing and plenty of German food and beer.

German food, music, fun

Festivities kick off on Friday at 4 p.m. where more than 20 artisan vendors along National Avenue will welcome attendees to the beer garden outside of Kegel’s Inn. A ceremonial keg-tapping and free beer giveaway will officially kick-off the event at 5:30 p.m.

Just south of the beer garden on 59th Street, Kegel's Inn will be offering a variety of German foods for purchase

"We're really trying to emphasize the street food aspect," notes Julian Kegel of Kegel's Inn. "So, we're focusing on sausages this year. Among them, there will be a really great currywurst... the ultimate in German street food. We will also be serving up a vegan fish fry." 

Other food items will include chicken schnitzel sandwiches, shank wings, cheese curds and onion rings. Both a regular fish fry and a vegan fish fry will be available all weekend long.

From there, guests can head over to the Hofbrau main stage for traditional dance performances with Mullers Fasching Verein and the Oberlanders followed by  accordian-fueled roots rock from Copper Box.  The sponsor stage will also feature live music all night long from performers including Hansi & Peggy Mueller and Stellar.

The party continues Saturday at noon with more live music, family-friendly activities like face painting, bounce castles and yard games, followed by the German Showcase Showdown, a local beer competition during which the best local German brew will be chosen and crowned.

Local German Beer Showdown

"To truly capture the essence of Oktoberfest, tap into the deep history of German beers in Milwaukee and highlight the explosion of amazing local breweries in the region, we felt a competition to showcase the creativity and expertise among our local artisan brewers would be very popular among beer fans," notes Kegel's Inn owner Julian Kegel.

The German Showcase Showdown begins at noon with exclusive VIP ticket-holder beer sampling until 2 p.m.

"Every brewery is bringing at least one special release, many of which are rare and limited edition," notes Kegel. "And those brews will be limited to VIP ticket-holders."

Beginning at 2 p.m., remaining beers will be available for purchase by the general public in full-pours or via a 10-punch beer pass ticket, which entitles the buyer to 10 beer samples  for $20.

Voting for the best local German brew will take place throughout the course of the day and the peoples' choice awards in four categories (best local German, best gluten-free, best import and best overall) will be announced after the festival.

Breweries competing in the showcase will include:

  • 1840 Brewing Co. -- Bay View
  • Lakefront Brewing Co -- Milwaukee
  • Bavarian Bierhaus – Glendale
  • Black Husky Brewing Co. – Milwaukee
  • Explorium Brewpub – Greendale
  • Mob Craft – Milwaukee
  • Westallion Brewing Co. – West Allis
  • Company Brewing Co. – Milwaukee
  • City Lights Brewing Co. – Milwaukee
  • Cider House of Wisconsin – McFarland
  • Broken Bat Brewing Co. – Milwaukee
  • Gathering Place Brewing Co. - Milwaukee
  • Biloba Brewing Co. – Brookfield
  • Sand Creek Brewing Co. – Black River Falls
  • Sprecher Brewing Co. – Glendale
  • The Lone Girl Brewing Co. – Waunakee
  • Untitled Art Brewing Co. – Waunakee
  • R’Noggin Brewing Co. -- Kenosha

First Oktoberfest takes place on Aug. 23 from 4 to 10 p.m. and Aug. 24 from noon to 10 p.m.

General admission is free. Wristbands, which allow guests to purchase alcohol, will be available for $3, with proceeds to benefit the West Milwaukee Lions Club. VIP tickets for the German Showcase Showdown, which include a Milwaukee Pretzel Co. pretzel, commemorative stein and unlimited beer sampling between noon and 2 p.m. are $40 and can be purchased online.  10-punch beer passes (which entitle guests to 10 samples from the German Showcase Showdown) will also be available for $20 each at the event. 

For more information and schedules, visit kegelsinn.com.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.