Des Moines Oktoberfest returns in the heart of downtown Des Moines on Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23 from 3 p.m. - 1 a.m. both evenings. If you’ve never been before, or are an Oktoberfest regular, see what the festival has in store for 2017. 

1. The Largest Street Layout To-Date!

Des Moines’ Oktoberfest is expanding the street party by bringing all offerings to the ground level to make it easier for attendees to move between sections of the festival. Enjoy the new “Party Plaza” which will feature a silent disco, the acoustic stage and a variety of party games. Attendees can enjoy Hammerschlagen where you try to be the first to pound their individual nail into a tree stump using a specific technique and set of rules. Cornhole, Stein Pong, Beer Checkers, Plinko and Bobbing for Apples will also be going all day long.

Oktoberfest DSM street layout

2. Zicke Zacke, Zicke Zacke….!

This year features two new headlining bands plus five returning favorites. Adam Sandhurst and the Jolly Jammers will take the stage Friday night to get the crowd dancing. The Polka Police will entertain the crowd Saturday by closing down the festival with the sounds of Sgt. Squeezebox and Lt. Lederhosen. Also come enjoy Oktoberfest veterans; Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen, Dale Dahmen and the Beats, Malek’s Fishermen Band, Jim Kucera Band and the Bill Koncar Band!

RELATED: Fall in Greater Des Moines

Oktoberfest DSM music

3. Das Bier is Good but Das Free Bier is Better!

Before Dale Dahmen and the Beats take the stage Friday, September 22, join us for the 3 pm Tapping of the Golden Keg. This has been a tradition since the start of Des Moines’ Oktoberfest fourteen years ago. The winner of the Golden Grand Prize will get to escort the Golden Keg into the festival via the Big Yellow Bike and will then take the first drink and deem the Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest fit for consumption. There will be free beer while the keg lasts, so get there early!

Oktoberfest DSM big yellow bike

4. The Metro’s Most Authentic German Festival

With a huge German food menu and expanded list of German imports, that is just the tip of the iceberg when you walk in to Oktoberfest. We’ve scoured the Midwest for the best Main Stage Polka Bands that will make polka dancing nearly Impossible to resist. A large percentage of attendees get in the spirit every year with authentic lederhosen, dirndls and Bavarian hats. The Polka Club of Iowa members are constantly teaching newcomers how to properly polka dance and embrace the culture. The festival is also held on the doorstep of Hessen Haus, so you can take your mug inside and fill it with their selection of German beers. Around every turn, the hope is that you are filled with the Oktoberfest spirit and feel like you are getting a taste of Munich in the heart of downtown Des Moines.

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Oktoberfest DSM authentic attire

5. We are Rolling out the Craft Beer Barrels

Among the delicious German imports at Oktoberfest, Craft Beer Village provides a wide variety of seasonal craft beers for the pumpkin, weissbier, and Oktoberfest themed brews. Come satisfy your tastebuds with a new spin on an old favorite. This year will feature a variety of local Des Moines beer and others such as Boone Valley Brewing, Boulevard Brewing, Lauginitas Brewing Company, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company, Oskar Blues Brewery, Peace Tree Brewing Company and Shiner Beer varieties.

Oktoberfest DSM craft beer village

6. Learn a Valuable New Skill this Fall

One of our favorite features is the polka dancing that is enhanced by the Polka Club of Iowa each year. The Central Iowa Chapter of the Polka Club of Iowa will hold official lessons from 3 - 5 p.m. on Saturday of the festival while Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen perform. You can see Bob, Nellie and other members grabbing a new partner each song and teaching them how to dance to the beat of a different drum all throughout the festival though.

RELATED: Find an Event in Greater Des Moines

Oktoberfest DSM polka

7. Low Brow, High Brow, Hofbrau - We’re all German at Oktoberfest!

Enjoy the Hofbrauhaus tent on 4th Street while you indulge in some of the best German beers. The festival will feature a large number of Hofbrau drafts, among other German brands. Grab a seat and soak in the culture around you both at the Lederhosen Lounge tent and Hofbrauhaus tent when your feet need a break from all the polka dancing! This year will also feature a limited release of the 150th Anniversary beer brewed by Leinenkugel and Hofbrau working hand-in-hand. Come out to have a try!

Oktoberfest DSM hofbrau

8. Work off a Few Calories in the Stein Holding Competition

Saturday will once again feature four versions of our stein holding competition. See who will be crowned Masskrugstemmen and take home bragging rights for an entire year! The 5 p.m. competition will feature local celebrities competing in a male and female round to take home the prize for the charity of their choice. The evening heats up at 9:30 p.m. when the official contest for the title of “Masskrugstemmen” begins and men and women try their strength, determination and stubbornness as they hold a 1-liter glass stein full of beer straight out in front of them. First priority for competitors will go to those dressed in authentic German attire.

RELATED: Greater Des Moines Attractions

Oktoberfest DSM stein holding competition

9. Enjoy a Dutch Letter Among Other Authentic Food

Enjoy German favorites such as Apple Strudl, Dutch Letters, Munich Sausages and Bavarian Pretzels from Strudl Haus, the official food vendor of Oktoberfest. Their team will be dressed in authentic German attire and will be serving up a full menu for attendee’s enjoyment. Owned and operated by Michael Leo, Strudl Haus has been bringing Austrian flair and cuisine to the Metro for many years. As an added bonus, check out their OktoberFEAST event on Thursday, September 21 for a four-course, sit down dinner to kick off Oktoberfest weekend.

Oktoberfest DSM dutch letters 

10. The Sweet Sounds of Acoustic Medleys

Head over to the Acoustic Sidewalk Stage and enjoy local favorites; Mike Aceto, Brian Congdon, Bruce Day, Mike Fonda, The Old Hippie Machine and Jason Walsmith. They will be performing music that gives you an escape from the polka party happening on 4th Street.

RELATED: Catch Greater Des Moines deals and discounts. Request your Fun Pass

Oktoberfest DSM acoustic

11. The Ever Popular Dr. McGillacuddy’s Schnappski

Grab three friends and come do a shot of your favorite Dr. McGillacuddy’s Schnapps or Dr. Whiskey in the four-person shotski! Our wonderful shotski girls will be glad to snap a picture for you. The event will also feature signature cocktails including the Blackberry Tart, Ginger Apple and Fire Cider.

Oktoberfest DSM schnappski

12. Win the Ultimate Title of 2017 Oktoberfest Bier Maiden

The crowd-favorite Bier Maiden Contest will take place at 9 p.m. on Friday, September 22. Ladies compete in three rounds to earn the title of Oktoberfest Bier Maiden. Rounds of bier chugging, belching and stein holding eliminate players each round, with a special yodeling round if there is a tie. Audience participation can sway the vote, so make sure to come with a cheering group! If you thought the stein holding was not for the faint of heart, you are in for an unforgettable experience! Participants must be dressed in bier maiden outfits to compete.

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Oktoberfest DSM Bier Maiden

13. A New Twist in the Vendor Lineup

This year will feature two new vendors. Oktoberfest’s new “Braid Bar” will help enhance the authentic attire with a stylist to give braid crowns, Dutch braids, Twisted crowns, French braids, Heidi braids and more. Then head over to commemorate your time at Des Moines’ Oktoberfest with a caricature of you and a friend!

Oktoberfest DSM vendors

14. They’ll be Dancing in the Streets at the Silent Disco!

Silent Disco DSM debuted at Oktoberfest last year and is excited to make a return this year. Attendees will get a pair of wireless LED headphones that connect to three channels with DJs playing different genres. One minute you may be listening to Springsteen and then you’ll switch to old school Blink 182 or belt out a classic Journey song. Featured DJs on the Silent Disco Stage include: Chris Coffey, Church, Confluence, Dub D, Germanation, Jesse Jamz, Jimmy Jim, Jimmy Wright, #johnnyrage, T.Hack and Tail Spin. There will be 500 headsets available to attendees on a first come, first serve basis.

Oktoberfest DSM silent disco

Follow Des Moines' Oktoberfest on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @OktoberfestDSM or join the conversation using #ProstDSM and #catchdsm.


Everyone's German at Oktoberfest!
Oktoberfest 2017 dates: Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23 from 3 p.m. - 1 a.m.
$7 for a 1-day general admission | $12 for a Weekend Pass
For Oktoberfest 2017 tickets visit, or visit any Des Moines area Hy-Vee (after 9/1)


Content & photos courtesy of Des Moines' Oktoberfest.