Traditional music, food and beer will highlight Old Man River’s Oktoberfest celebration
By Audrey Posten
Gemutlichkeit—the German word for a situation that induces a cheerful mood and social belonging, especially in regard to public festivities that involve music, food and drink—will be the order of the day in McGregor on Saturday, Sept. 28 as Old Man River hosts Oktoberfest from 1 to 8 p.m.
After just providing German chocolate cupcakes for last year’s festivities, Old Man River managers Allison and Angelica Dayrit-Roberts have taken the reigns from the Strutt family for this year’s event.
“It’s always been a good time,” Allison said of Oktoberfest. “It’s a formula you can’t mess up.”
Oktoberfest has always emphasized good food and live music—a blueprint from which Allison and Angelica don’t plan to stray. The Americana Band from Dubuque will perform on A Street throughout the afternoon, providing festival-goers with plenty of polka.
The day’s menu will include potato soup, local brats, pork roast, smoked pork, sauerkraut and traditional German potato salad, a recipe Allison learned from her mother, who picked it up in Germany while her father was stationed there with the military. Cole slaw, fruit salad, apple strudel and, of course, German chocolate cupcakes round out the rest of the menu.
Like any Oktoberfest celebration, the day would not be complete without plenty of beer. While past Oktoberfests have focused on beer from Backpocket Brewery—which was originally housed at Old Man River, but now operates out of Coralville—Allison said this year’s event will honor that tradition while also being more inclusive of other brands.
“Those Backpocket recipes that were brewed here are part of the dream the Strutts had for this event, along with the tie into the German heritage,” Allison explained. “As a business, it’s important to us to keep that tradition that is important to them.”
This year, Oktoberfest patrons can sample between six and 15 Oktoberfest brews from not only Backpocket, but also Millstream, Schell’s and many other brands.
Allison said a festival like this gives people the opportunity to sample beer they might not usually purchase.
“I enjoy beer,” she said, “but I’m probably not going to go to the store and buy six packs of all these beers. But if I go to a festival like this, then I’m going to get to experience all of them.”
Another change to this year’s Oktoberfest includes closing off the alley next to Old Man River, not only to make the event safer, but to provide passersby with a better visual.
“Hopefully people will stop in instead of just driving through,” Allison said.
Taking over an event of this nature—having to obtain outdoor permits and work out street closures—was something new for the couple. However, Allison said learning new business aspects has been intriguing.
“Having something new to explore keeps you energized,” she said. “Sure, we’ve had some anxieties, but you have to face them head on. I have a passion for food and I love sharing that with others. Moving from indoors to outdoors with this festival style is turning my day’s work into a party.”
Oktoberfest-goers can enjoy the music and atmosphere at no cost, but food or drink items will have to be purchased. Non-alcoholic beverage options will also be available.