The annual Oktoberfest music festival makes its return to Downtown Oak Park the weekend of Sept. 15-17. Now renamed “OakToberfest,” the gathering will feature 21 acts performing on two stages, including two-time Grammy nominee Billy Branch, Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans, Robbie Fulks, Pat Dinizio of the Smithereens, and local blues legend and native Oak Parker Eddie C. Campbell, who the Chicago Tribune calls “one of Chicago’s most distinctive artists.”
“The OakToberfest is a tremendous opportunity for Oak Parkers to get together and feel a sense of unity in enjoying good music, instead of going into Chicago and scattering everywhere, to all be together,” said Campbell’s manager, Barbara Mayson. “All Oak Parkers can get together and have a wonderful time and there’s a cross section of all different genres of music there, pretty much something for everyone.”
“We think this is going to be one of the finer free music festivals, not only in Oak Park, but in the entire Chicagoland area,” said Chris Jamrozy, Downtown Oak Park marketing and special events manager. “All of the artists are going to put on a great show, and it’s going to be a really great weekend.”
According to Jamrozy, crowds attending in the past have been around 8,000 to 10,000 for the weekend, and he expects the same, if not more this year.
The main stage will be set up at the corner of North Boulevard and Marion Street and will feature acts ranging from blues to country to rock and funk. A second stage, located on the Marion Street mall, will showcase an array of performers from the Old Town School of Folk Music.
Downtown Oak Park restaurants, including Rock L’s, Mancini’s, Puree’s Pizza and Pasta, Marion St. Cheese Market, the Movable Gourmet, and Khyber Pass will offer a wide variety food from which to choose.
Eric Larson, owner of the Marion St. Cheese Market, is excited for a chance to showcase the offerings of his store. Larson also had a hand in selecting the performers and arranging the festival.
“His wife came up with the idea for the new name, which we think is more personalized and is a little more telling [than the old name] about what this festival is and what Downtown Oak Park has to offer,” Jamrozy said.
For a $3 fee children can play in the Kidz Fun Zone which includes a giant moon jump, a 40-foot obstacle course, face painting, arts and crafts, Bozo Buckets, temporary tattoos, and a balloon artist.
For the older crowd, a beer and wine garden will also be featured, with drink prices ranging from about $3 to $4. Carnival games and special store sales are also ongoing the entire weekend.
Admission to OakToberfest is free.
The Metra West or CTA Green Line make stops directly at the event. Parking will be free in the garages located at a half block north of Lake and Marion and at Lake and Forest.