City of Evanston hosts fifth annual Oktoberfest celebration

Max Paik, Reporter

Over a thousand people crowded into the intersection at Oak Avenue and University Place on Sunday to celebrate Oktoberfest by drinking beer and viewing Evanston’s first Maker’s Market, among other activities.

Downtown Evanston, a non-profit dedicated to developing and promoting Evanston’s business district, has hosted the event for the past five years. This year’s festival went all afternoon, from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets were available for $35 and included access to live music, dancing and craft beers and ciders from all around the North Shore. For non-drinkers, $15 dollar tickets were also available. Children under twelve got in free.

Annie Coakley, Downtown Evanston’s Executive Director, said Oktoberfest is a major fundraiser for other events and initiatives in Evanston. This year, much of the funds will go toward replacing the city’s two-decade-old Christmas lights.

Beyond finances, Coakley also sees Oktoberfest as a chance to showcase and celebrate local businesses.

“We have all these great breweries in Evanston,” Coakley said, “and we wanted to highlight them.”

Twenty different breweries and cideries were represented at Oktoberfest, with over forty different styles of beer and cider available. Chris Collins, owner of North Shore Cider, came back to Evanston Oktoberfest for the third time.

Collins had two drinks on tap, Never Say Never, a rosé cider, and Punkin, a fall-themed pumpkin spice cider. His company, located on Howard Street, emulates less sweet European ciders.

“There weren’t any ciders that reminded me of French or English ciders,” Collins said, “so I started making my own ciders.”

This year, Coakley said, Downtown Evanston made an effort to incorporate more traditional German elements during Oktoberfest. Evanston’s Prairie Moon catered the event and served Bratwurst, Thuringer sausages and burgers.

Smylie Brothers Brewing Company sold pretzels and La Cocinita sold arepas, tacos and Carribean Bowls.

“If we were going to continue using the Oktoberfest name,” Coakley said, “we needed to have more of the spirit of a traditional Oktoberfest.”

Die Musikmeisters, a traditional German band, played until 3 p.m. with dancers dressed in lederhosen performing in front of them.

For the first time this year, Evanston Made, an organization founded in 2012 with the goal of promoting local artists, hosted a Maker’s Market alongside Oktoberfest. On the fifth level of the 1800 Maple Garage, over 70 artists, 21 of whom were kids, set up galleries paintings, ceramics, jewelry, t-shirts and more. Tickets were sold separately for five dollars each.

Liz Cramer and Kathy Halper, project coordinators for the Maker’s Market, both saw Oktoberfest as a chance to give local artists a platform beyond the studio tours and gallery visits Evanston Made has put together.

“There are a lot of talented and professional artists living in Evanston,” Cramer said. “It’s one of our best kept secrets.”

For some, the Maker’s Market represented the first chance to put their art on display. This was the case for Steve Denenberg, an Evanston resident for the past thirty years. Denenberg’s work involves both paintings and three-dimensional collages, where chopsticks, circuit boards, toothpick dispensers, and other bits of plastic are layered on top of paintings and pictures.

Denenberg says he was motivated by a desire to be less wasteful while also creating an eye catching piece of art.

“I would just throw this stuff away,” Denenberg said, pointing at one of his collages. “Now it jumps out at you in an interesting way.”

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Twitter: @max_paik


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