I think when people throughout the country think of Ohio, what comes to mind for them is mostly farmland and a vanilla demographic. Little do they know how ethnically diverse things really are here in the Buckeye State. In the Valley we tend to always gravitate to ethnic traditions of Italy and sometimes Greece which I’m assuming is because of the large population of Italian and Greek Americans in the area. Being of both Italian and German decent, I find myself doing the same thing. I tend to cook more pizzas and pastas than schnitzels and brats. Well friends, there is one time of year when Spade and I get to celebrate our German side— and that time is Oktoberfest.
Traditionally, Oktoberfest is held in Munich, Germany. It lasts anywhere from 17 to 18 days starting towards the end of September and ending around the beginning of October. The festival celebrates a bountiful harvest. Beer is always associated with the event because of the harvest or grain used to make the beer (not to mention the large quantities consumed during the course of the event.) Over the last century this has been translated into smaller, similar American festivals. You can find these events all over the US. This past weekend we had the pleasure of enjoying an Oktoberfest right here in our hometown of Warren, Ohio. While we generally review local restaurants, coffee shops, or ongoing events, we felt we must connect our readers with this particular gathering. This event embodied everything that we support and want to encourage. Our goal here at Jimmy and Spade Eat is always to connect people and create a deeper sense of community, which is exactly what happened at Courthouse Square this past Saturday night.
It was a beautiful fall evening with the sun gleaming through the fallen leaves and a crispness to the air. As we walked towards the downtown square our ears rang with the symphony of Polka music provided by the Youngstown Saxon Club. (If you didn’t know—Polka music has a long standing tradition here in the Mahoning Valley. I even remember my grandparents singing and dancing to Polka tunes.) Tickets were $25.00 pre-sale and $30.00 at the door. I felt this was worth a mention because tickets to cultural events like this can scare some away, however this was more than a reasonable price for all you can eat food and two free drinks.
The smell of bratwursts and sauerkraut filled the air as we entered the square. My mouth was drooling just from the aroma. The term “all you can eat” is something that always makes me weary at certain events. Not in this case however. The brats and sauerkraut were made by Warren’s own Erik Hoover of Cockeye BBQ in partnership with the Youngstown Saxon Club recipe. The brats had a smokey flavor and were freshly grilled to perfection, and the kraut had just the right amount of pungent flavor as it was freshly fermented for the festival. I’m not sure if we could count on one hand how many we ate between the two of us. (All for the sake of research of course.) We also had some delectable pastries provided by Warren’s Mocha House.
With it being Oktoberfest and all, the pinnacle of the evening was the beer. We had some traditional beers from Germany featuring Oktoberfest themes and flavors. The best part was that we got to enjoy some of our favorite local breweries right in our backyard. The guys from Birdfish Brewing (birdfishbrewing.com) were there alongside our new friends from Noble Creature (noblecreaturebeer.com) and Paladin Brewing (paladinbrewing.com) from Austintown. It was great to spend time with our friends from Birdfish while also celebrating Noble Creature’s first keg tapping event. (They will be opening soon in downtown Youngstown, more details coming on that!)
Outside of the food and drink the rest of the fanfare was well worth the price of admission. We enjoyed live music all night with a handmade dance floor, there was a strudel contest, grape stomping, and a fun, traditional feature of the tapping of the keg. There were also more than a few patrons wearing traditional German attire which really added to the ambiance of the event.
The event was put on by the Trumbull County Historical Society (trumbullcountyhistory.org), co-organized by Meghan Reed (director of TCHS) and Adam Keck (owner and brewer of Modern Methods Brewing—modernmethodsbrew.com—opening soon in downtown Warren!!) They along with friends and family created a unique event and a memorable evening. They were able to facilitate a sense of community by bringing everyone together for something special while also supporting local business owners. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. Cheers and hats off—or as they say in Germany, prost!