Oktoberfest at the Deutsches Haus is a New Orleans Institution.
The Deutsches Haus, an organization formed in New Orleans in 1928 to assist German immigrants in assimilating to life in New Orleans, has been hosting Oktoberfest in New Orleans for generations. My austere, German Coast-born grandfather used to do the Chicken Dance there with my grandmother. I went when the fest was still on South Galvez and when my husband was still my boyfriend. I waddled out to Rivertown in late October when I was in my third trimester. And now, I’m taking my toddler to Moss Street. Here’s five reasons why Oktoberfest in New Orleans is a family tradition you should start this year:
1. New Location
Until 2010, the New Orleans iteration of Oktoberfest was held in Mid-City on South Galvez St. In 2011, the old Haus, and the majority of the neighborhood surrounding it, was purchased through eminent domain and demolished for the construction of the new University Medical Center. The organization found a temporary home in Metairie and began hosting Oktberfest in Kenner. Though the Kenner Rivertown location has served Oktoberfest well in the interim, this is the first year that Oktoberfest will be at its permanent home on Moss Street. Hurra!
Though the permanent structure is not yet built, the move back to Orleans Parish is a huge win for the Haus, which has been diligently working toward settling into a permanent home. The location on Moss Street is a bit more central for folks coming from the city and offers fantastic views of Bayou St. John and City Park. Also, if you, like me, are a millennial parent of a certain age who is still salty that she didn’t get a brick at the Aquarium, you’re in luck. The Deutsches Haus is also selling engraved bricks to mitigate the cost of the new building. These bricks will be used to pave the sidewalk leading up to the new Haus.
2. Weenie Dog Races
Everyone knows that for the most part, kids love dogs. Everyone also knows that dogs are more enjoyable when they are not yours. Therefore, your dog-obsessed children + dogs that aren’t yours = fun for everyone. The Dachshund Dash, which usually occurs in the afternoon of the last Saturday of the Fest (10/21 this year), is a great opportunity to see some cute pups duke it out for the title of speediest weenie dog. Some owners even dress up their pooches in tiny Alpine hats and flower crowns. Watch your favorite dog as they as they go from weiner to winner in an all-out sprint to the finish line.
3. Free for Kids 12 and Under
There are endless festivals and events in New Orleans in October. What is the greatest point of differentiation between Oktoberfest and other activities, perhaps, is that the vast majority of these other events not only cost money, but they get to be downright expensive when you’re taking a family of four (I’m looking at you, Halloween-themed events). Oktoberfest is free for kids 12 and under, and tickets for paying attendees are only $8. With kid-friendly activities like face painting, story time and puppet shows, the only thing happier than your little ones will be your wallet.
4. Chicken Dance
Who doesn’t love that old Bavarian favorite, the Chicken Dance? Some poor, patient soul dressed up as a giant furry chicken dutifully leads the masses in some old-fashioned booty shaking multiple times a day. And kids love seeing fuzzy, life-sized characters. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will.
5. Old School German Food
Per my last check on the Internet, there is a severe lack of German restaurants in New Orleans. In a town that used to be renowned for German restaurants such as Kolb’s, Oktoberfest offers attendees a taste of the German foods of yesteryear: sauerbraten (braised roast beef), krautwickel (ground beef rolled in sausage) and of course, brats and pretzels, just to name a few. The dishes are all handmade by members of the Deustches Haus, using recipes that have been passed down to them.
Oktoberfest is a sort of pop-up for German cuisine in a city known for a diverse food palette. Obviously, these delectable dishes are in addition to the massive selection of German-style beers, wine, schnapps and snacks available at every turn. Non-alcoholic beverages are available too, of course. Go ahead, let your foodie flag fly.
So when you’re thinking of fun, family activities in New Orleans this October, make sure that bringing the family to celebrate Oktoberfest’s return to Mid-City tops your list. We hope to see you there. Prost!
October 6-7 • 13-14 • 20-21
Fridays – 4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturdays – 1:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
1700 Moss St. • New Orleans, LA 70119
Admission: $8 for people over 12.