People often come to St. Al's Oktoberfest dressed in traditional German attire. Credit: Provided/Special Events Management

LAKEVIEW — St. Alphonsus Church, a Lakeview-based parish founded by German immigrants in 1882, is holding its 20th annual Oktoberfest this weekend with Bavarian foods, polka bands and craft beer.

The festival runs 5-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday in the area surrounding St. Alphonsus Church, 1429 W. Wellington Ave. Admission is $10.

The event celebrates Oktoberfest, a weekslong festival that started more than 200 years ago in Munich to celebrate when Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.

Oktoberfest visitors can enjoy Bavarian brats, sauerkraut, potato salad and pretzels paired with craft beer. Credit: Provided/Special Events Management

St. Alphonsus’ local spinoff of the celebration will feature two stages — one on Southport Avenue and another in the church’s parking lot — with bands such as the Bratwurst Brothers and Polkaholics, as well as local favorites Rod Tuffcurls and 16 Candles.

Visitors can pay $40 to participate in craft beer tasting in the church’s social hall, which will have nearly 30 beers on tap, including imports, seasonal brews and beers from local craft breweries, said Steven Bauer, pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish.

The festival also offers a $175 Brewmaster Package, which includes a commemorative one-liter stein imported from Germany, free admission for four, food, two-for-one beer specials and reduced admission to the craft beer tasting, Bauer said.

Food vendors will offer a mix of Bavarian cuisine — brats, sauerkraut, German potato salad and pretzels — as well as traditional festival food, Bauer said.

“The brats are made with a recipe that’s unique to St. Alphonsus,” Bauer said. “It was passed down from families that were here decades ago who worked as butchers. They wanted their own special flavor of brats, which we still use today.”

The brats are made following a recipe that’s been passed down for generations at St. Alphonsus Church. Credit: Provided/Special Events Management

St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest is special because it’s built on the authentic German heritage of that area of Lakeview, Bauer said. The St. Alphonsus parish was founded in 1882 and the church was established by 1889.

“At the time, this area of the city was receiving many immigrants from Germany who came to help rebuild the city after the Chicago Fire,” Bauer said. “The Germans who came over were skilled craftsmen and laborers in the construction field, and the city was in desperate need for people with those skills.”

This caused the German-American population in Chicago to boom, with St. Alphonsus establishing itself as an anchor for the community, Bauer said.

“This festival is a great way for us to share that piece of history,” he said.

The best word to describe the festival is “Gemütlichkeit,” Bauer said.

“It’s a German word for the kind of happy, celebratory atmosphere you’ll find at” St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest, Bauer said. “We have people that come dressed in traditional German attire like lederhosen, dirndl dresses and alpine hats. People go all out.”

More information can be found on the St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest website.

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