St. Charles Oktoberfest: more than beer


Photo by James Tananan Kamnuedkhun

St. Charles Oktoberfest is this weekend Sept. 27-29.


The city of St. Charles is hosting its annual Oktoberfest this weekend in Historic Downtown St. Charles.

The St. Charles Oktoberfest festival will be held from Sept. 27-29, outside of the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Museum. The festival was previously held at Frontier Park, but changed location this year due to recent flooding along the St. Charles riverfront.

Oktoberfest originated in 1810 to celebrate the new marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen of Bavaria, according to the Delaware Saengerbund and Library Association.

Five days after their marriage, a large festival was held to celebrate the then-newlywed couple in Munich, Germany. Since its original celebration, Oktoberfest turned into world-renowned event observed around the globe, with some festivals lasting over two weeks in duration.

Today, the festival has been identified with big tents hosting a variety of events that celebrate German culture, entertainment, food and beer.

Knut Tarnowski, an adjunct professor for German at Lindenwood University, said the festival has become a lucrative business in modern years.

“It’s totally a commercialized thing now,” Tarnowski said. “Nowadays, it’s a giant money-making event.”

But for Dan Foust, the chairman of the St. Charles Oktoberfest, that is not the case for this event.

“A lot of festivals put too much emphasis on how much money they are going to make,” Foust said. “We don’t make any money as we are a non-profit organization. So it’s a way of giving back to the community and for everyone to have a good time.”

Foust works a full-time job and is involved with various philanthropic organizations in the St. Louis area, but that hasn’t stopped him from dedicating his time and effort into this event for the past 14 years.

Foust was able to donate nearly $200,000 from the Oktoberfest profits last year alone to 27 local charities, including Lions Clubs and Cheer St. Louis.

Since 2005, Foust and his team of 26 volunteers helped elevate the festival from 5,000 attendees to 120,000 in 2018. Foust credits the attendance of Lindenwood students as a factor for the increase in recent years.

To some, the German-originated festival has become synonymous to drinking. For Foust, although alcohol is served, it isn’t the main focus of the St. Charles Oktoberfest.

“We don’t put any emphasis on drinking beer because we know people are going to drink beer,” Foust said. “The general feeling of Oktoberfest that we put on is a family function that you can bring your kids out to.”

Foust said the top four focus points of the festival are “friendship, entertainment, beer and food.”

Attendees from 2018 stand to watch the annual weiner dog races.
Photo from Discover St. Charles

Attendees can expect events such as a 5K and 10K run, a wiener dog racing competition, an antique car show and a bratwurst eating contest.

A children’s play area with a bounce house and face painting will also be featured.

There will also be a wide selection of food and nearly 20 beers, ranging from domestic, local, and German options.

There is no admission fee, but attendees age 21 and up with a valid ID may purchase a $2 wristband that is required to consume alcohol on the premises.

The St. Charles Oktoberfest kicks off at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 27 at 1050 S. Riverside Drive.