At the 2017 Columbus Oktoberfest, some guests will march to the beat of their own drum.
Festival organizers are introducing “Silent Disco” headsets, with 40 to 50 patrons at a time receiving the headphones programmed to play different genres of music – from country to pop – spun by a disc jockey.
“You (will) see people dancing to different music,” said Wayne Owens, who is in charge of entertainment and events at the Oktoberfest. “It’s humorous to say the least.”
Owens said the Silent Disco sets would be shared for free; when a patron is done with one, the next person who signed up would receive the headset to use.
The devices will be among the many attractions at the 52nd annual Oktoberfest, which is slated Friday, Sept. 22, to Sunday, Sept. 24, at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair, 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus.
Admission is free, but parking costs $10.
Geoff Schmidt, whose family founded Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant in German Village, said patrons will recognize many of the returning attractions: the men’s and women’s stone toss, the stein hoist and a cream-puff-eating contest. The Schmidt family is in charge of the event.
The ceremonial tapping of the keg begins at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 22. It will be followed by the Oktoberfest Meiler Vier, a 4-mile run also called the “brat trot” that benefits the Charity Newsies organization.
Numerous German dishes will be on sale, including Bavarian pretzels, bratwurst, weisswurst, sauerkraut balls, potato pancakes and cabbage and noodles.
Naturally, imported German beer is a big draw for many in the crowd.
Traditional polka bands and more contemporary musicians, such as McGuffey Lane, will perform throughout the festival.
The marktplatz will have arts, crafts and commercial vendors with local and international merchandise.
Meanwhile, the kinderplatz will have such activities for children as face-painting, amusement rides, games and puppet shows.
In addition, Owens will be recognized for his longtime volunteerism. The 77-year-old Merion Village resident, who has helped coordinate the festival for three decades, will be inducted into the Oktoberfest Hall of Fame.
“He’s a huge part of the Oktoberfest,” Schmidt said.
Owens said he had tried to keep from being honored but eventually relented.
“I’m appreciative of it,” he said.
Owens is involved in a number of other projects in the German Village neighborhood, such as the Village Singers, for which he is the founder and general manager.
Owens credits his wife, Willa, for her patience with his many activities.
“I do a good job, but she supports it,” he said.