Oktoberfest takes over fairgrounds this weekend
For those who need a drinking game that doesn't involve quarters or ping pong balls, meet hammerschlagen.
The competition, whose origins date back to 1810 in Germany, will be one of the new attractions at the 47th annual Columbus Oktoberfest Friday through Sunday, Sept. 28-30, at the Ohio Expo Center, 717 E. 17th Ave.
The basic setup involves thick chunks of cottonwood, about 32 inches in diameter, set waist high, said Mike Huyser, owner of West Michigan Games, which is bringing hammerschlagen to the Oktoberfest.
Players must buy nails to participate. Each player gets one turn at hammering the nail into the board. Here's the tricky part: Participants must use the narrow end of a blacksmith hammer.
"It's a game of skill," he said.
Just how alcohol factors into it isn't as clear, but players presumably will be hoisting a few steins.
"It takes hand-to-eye coordination," Huyser said. "Alcohol plays into it."
The Oktoberfest will be held rain or shine, taking over three buildings, totaling 100,000 square feet, at the Expo Center, commonly known as the Ohio State Fairgrounds.
Opening ceremonies will be packed with activities. Gates to the festival open at 5 p.m. Sept. 28, followed by the ceremonial tapping of the keg at 6 p.m. The vier meiler, a 4-mile run also known as the "brat trot," starts at 6:15 p.m. Proceeds benefit Charity Newsies.
Personalities from local TV and radio stations will compete in the creampuff-eating contest, to be held 7:30 p.m. The winner will receive $500 for his or her charity. Runners up will get $250 for their favorite charities.
Among the festival highlights, Sunny Anderson, host of Cooking for Real on the Food Network, will make an appearance from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Giant Eagle marketplatz pavilion.
Live bands, from traditional German folk music to modern rock and country acts, will take the stage on all three days of the celebration.
Geoff Schmidt, president of Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant, which puts on the Oktoberfest, called it the "best party in town."
"This year, we're looking forward to the return of great German food, German music and entertainment and, of course, the best imported German beer," Schmidt said. "Additionally, we have some wonderful new activities and games that we're excited to introduce to central Ohio."