Downtown Oak Park’s 15th annual fall festival, Oaktoberfest, will feature live music, micro-brew beers, food, televised Cubs and Bears games, and activities for kids. It all happens this Friday through Sunday. The festivities, sponsored by the Downtown Oak Park business association, Comcast, and the Marion Street Cheese Market, will take place on North Boulevard and in the parking lot between Marion and Forest Avenues, near the Harlem Metra and CTA stops. Both areas will be closed from 5 a.m. on Friday to 2 p.m. on Monday. Admission to the festival is free.
According to Bobby Samborsky, marketing and communication manager for Downtown Oak Park, the music featured will be “roots-rock or folk-rock.” The artists, he said, will “not be overly heavy for an older set, but will still be cool and hip for a younger set.”
Among the musical highlights will be Eilen Jewel and the Infamous Stringdusters on Friday night and Anna Fermin’s Trigger Gospel and the Waco Brothers on Saturday night. Jewel, who hails from Boise, Idaho, has been compared to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch. The Infamous Stringdusters are a six-man group from Nashville who, according to their website, are “steeped in the tradition of bluegrass vocal harmony.” Anna Fermin’s Trigger Gospel blends country, rock and pop, and Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot calls Fermin “one of Chicago’s most treasured voices.” The Waco Brothers, also based in Chicago, have a songbook “filled with political parables fused to a lost highway aesthetic and loads of black humor,” according to Time Out Chicago. For a complete schedule of the music, see the sidebar, and for artists’ websites, pay a visit to the festival’s website: downtownoakpark.net/oaktoberfest.html.
The music isn’t Oaktoberfest’s only attraction: 12 hand-crafted microbrews will be served in 22-ounce souvenir mugs by local celebrity bartenders. A sample tray will include Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest, Sam Adams’ Octoberfest, and Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale. Other options will include Strongbow Cider and brews from New Belgium. For more information, see the website (address included above). Food from Khyber Pass, Luo’s Peking House, Mancini’s, the Marion Street Cheese Market, Moveable Gourmet, and Puree’s will accompany the beverages.
As for activities, on Sunday the roots music will give way to Chicago sports and games for adults. The Cubs game against the Pirates will be shown on a jumbo screen television sponsored by Comcast beginning at 1:20 p.m., followed by the Bears-Cowboys game at 7:15. During the afternoon on Sunday, there will be a bag toss tournament for two-person 21-and-up teams with prizes from Samuel Adams brewery. Registration will last from 12 to 1 p.m., and the tournament will begin at 2.
Kids will also have activities to choose from. On Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m., they will be able to sip beverages in a root beer garden, race wheeled zucchinis, and decorate other vegetables.
While the proceeds will help offset the cost of the event, tips from beer sales will go to the Animal Care League.