By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 21, 2023 at 9:02 AM

Festival City is hopping this summer! OnMilwaukee's Festival Guide is brought to you by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Escape the heat and step inside! 

Oktoberfest – for a marzen lover like me, it’s the most wonderful time of the beer.

With the city's German heritage and thriving passion for suds, it’s little surprise that Milwaukee loves this autumn festival of food and froth.

Kegel’s Inn, Swarmm Events, East Town Association and Milwaukee County Parks are again collaborating on Milwaukee Oktoberfest, this time at Cathedral Square Park Downtown, from Oct. 6 to 8.

The family friendly event features stein hoisting, Miss Oktoberfest, cornhole and Wiener Dog beauty competitions, along with authentic German food from Kegel’s Inn and, of course, beer.

Last year's event was held at the Milwaukee War Memorial Beer Garden.

“Oktoberfest was last held in Cathedral Square back in 2015,” says Eddie Sturkey, executive director of East Town Association. “It’s exciting to bring this free community event back to one of the city’s iconic Downtown parks.”

Admission is free and wristbands for folks 21 and up to purchase alcohol are $2. VIP and party packages are also available.

Proceeds benefit Milwaukee County Parks via East Town Association and its programming at Cathedral Square Park, including Bastille Days and Jazz In the Park.

“We are excited to be back at Cathedral Square Park with room to grow,” says Michael Sampson, owner of Swarmm Events.

For more information and to purchase VIP and party tickets, visit

“Kegel’s Inn is proud to have served the community since 1924,” says Stephanie Kegel, fourth generation owner of Kegel’s Inn.

“Milwaukee is a town with so much rich culture and history, and as we approach our 100th anniversary we’re excited to be participating again in this fun annual event with our partners at Cathedral Square!”

Oktoberfest at Old Heidelberg Park

Now celebrating 60 years on its current site, Oktoberfest on the grounds of the Bavarian Bierhaus takes place weekends through Oct. 7.

Gates open at 4 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and there’s live music, carnival games, frothy beer, German dancing, and food galore, including Usinger’s sausage, Bavarian pretzels, doner kebap, schnitzel, fish on Fridays, kids and vegetarian meals, and, on Fridays and Saturdays, spanferkel and otissere chicken.

Admission is $5 on Fridays and $10 on Saturdays. Wristbands are sold at the front gate. Admission is free on Thursdays and Sundays. Get a $5 discount when you download the Bavarian Bierhaus App and show it at the gate.

Reservations for tables of eight ($10 on Friday, $40 on Saturday) can be made here.

Find more info, including a full roster of live music, at

Black Husky Brewing

The Riverwest brewery's event is Saturday, Sept. 23 ay 909 E. Locust St. and kicks off at 1 p.m. with a firkin tapping and free Oktoberfest beer, while it lasts. There will be music by Polish Moon Polka Trio and co-owner Tim Eichinger will be cooking up the brats. There's a best pet costume contest, a yodeling demo and contest, a stein holding competition and hammerschlagen all day long.

Component Brewing

Although its Oktoberfest beer is already released, Bay View's Component Brewing, 2018 S. 1st St., will host an Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, Sept. 23 and will launch a second beer that day.

There will be live music by Brewhaus Polka Kings and Iron Monocle, food from Hot Dish Pantry, stein-holding contests with prizes, and the official opening of mug club membership for the 2023-24 season. Doors open at noon, but current mug club members get early entry.

Duesterbeck's Brewing Company

Elkhorn's farmhouse brewery, N5543 County Rd. O, hosts its fourth annual Oktoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. German dancers, vendors, food trucks, live music, the brewery's own Oktoberfest marzen beer and more.


Just an hour's drive from Milwaukee, Elkhart Lake is a gem of a town and it hosts its annual Elktoberfest, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.  There's a Stein Social at Siebkens resort; an Oktoberfest beer tapping at SwitchGear Brewing; the Elktoberfest 5K Wine & Beer Run/Walk; a Root Beer Garten with bounce houses, face painting, pumpkin decorating, root beer floats and more; a potato salad cook-off contest; Miesfeld’s Elktoberfest Beer Tent; and more! Complete schedule and details at

Indeed Brewing

Oktoberfest beer
Vienna lager, festbier and hefeweizen are available at Indeed now.

Indeed hosts its first Oktoberfest in Walker's Point through Oct. 1, with liters of beer, pretzels and Hammerschlagen available daily. On Saturdays and Sundays they'll add Beer Brûlée, brats, steinholding competitions and music.

“Oktoberfest is one of the greatest beer experiences in the world, and we’re excited to throw our version of the event at our Milwaukee taproom which will be transformed into a German-style beer hall with long tables and liters of beers for three weeks,” says Indeed's Director of Experience Ryan Bandy.

“Our Oktoberfest (festbier) has been lagering since May and is tasting as good as ever, and will be served alongside a Hefeweizen and Vienna Lager. Of course we’ll have our Pistachio Cream Ale and Flavorwave IPA for a truly Indeed Milwaukee-style Oktoberfest.”

The hefe and Vienna were brewed in Milwaukee and the festbier in Minneapolis.

More information is here.


J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard at American Family Field celebrates the annual return of Leinie's Oktoberfest – which has been on tap at the bar there all month long already – with the inaugural Oktobrewfest on Sunday, Sept. 24 from noon until 3 p.m.

Though you can't tell, because of the opaque aluminum cup, I assure you that's Leinie's Oktoberfest pictured.

The family-friendly event will include an appearance by Bernie Brewer, between noon and 1, traditional Oktoberfest games like a stein holding competition and best-dressed award, live music by Die Musikmeisters Band and Oktoberfest-inspired cuisine, curated by Chef Kathryn Southcott.

Pilot Project

The brewery taproom will host an Oktoberfest Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. with a tasting of Pilot Project's autumnal brews and a curated five-course meal by Chef Ryan Gill. Each course will be paired with a seasonal beer from one of Pilot Project's incubated brands, including Azadi Brewing, Funkytown Brewery, and Brewer's Kitchen. Tickets are $75, with tax and tip are included.

St. Augustine of Hippo

This Bay View church's annual Oktoberfest kicks off at noon, after mass, on Sunday, Sept. 24. There will be live music beginning at 12:30 with Jeff Winard and his Polka Party and The Squeezettes. In addition to the requisite biergarten, there will also be paddle games for prizes, a silent auction, a 50/50 cash raffle, a steing holding competition, a church cake walk, a kids game area, face painting and traditional German food. Located at 2530 S. Howell Ave.


The Waukesha Oktoberfest will take place at Frame Park, , on Friday, Sept. 22 from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 23, noon-10. There's a firkin tapping to kick off the event on Friday at 5, with free beer while it lasts. In addition to the beer, there's a Bier Foam Fun Run; Das Bags tournament; chainsaw wood carving demos; live music by Blaskapelle Milwaukee, The Squeezettes, CopperBox and others; a family area with crafts and games; live beer garden statues; free Oktoberfest cake and more.  For more information, visit

Wisconsin Brewing Company Park

The Lake Country DockHounds stadium in Oconomowoc hosts its second Oktoberfest on Sept. 23, from noon to 5 p.m. Included are endless beer samples from more than 20 breweries, German food, live music and more.

 New at Oktoberfest 2023 are timed tappings that will take place at 1 and 3:30 p.m. featuring new brews from Hillsboro Brewing Company and Broken Bat Brewing Company.

Admission starts at $45 and VIP packages are also available for $65 and include a commemorative beer stein, early access at 11 a.m., a private brat bar, and exclusive beer tastings with Lake Louie Brewing.

There will also be a bags tournament with a cash prize. Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the LC DockHounds Foundation. 

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.