"Gemütlichkeit!”—a feeling of great contentment—visits Peoria once again during the 10th Annual Oktoberfest, September 16 to 18, on the riverfront. People of all ages and backgrounds will enjoy German music, food, and family entertainment during the weekend festival. Co-sponsored by the Peoria Park District and the Peoria German-American Central Society, Oktoberfest features a large music tent, plus an “oompah-free” music zone at the CEFCU Center Stage.

Festival attendees can look forward to German bands, authentic German food and beverages, children’s activities, German dancing, exhibitors, and vendors. The event runs from 5 to 11 p.m., September 16; from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., September 17; and September 18 starts with a Polka Mass at 10:30 a.m., with Bishop Daniel Jenky as the celebrant. The day closes at 7 p.m.

Entertainers at this year’s fest include the Brummers of Peoria, Die Spitzbuam from St. Louis, Kunterbunt, and the Stein Village Band and Hartmann Trio from Germany. An “oompah-free” zone of music returns this year at the CEFCU Center Stage, featuring Generations, a local favorite, September 16 and Shades of Blue, a Blues Brothers-style revue, September 17. Additional attractions include Alphorn performances, German folk dancers, and the German Kasperl Puppet Theater.

The Radisson of Peoria, formerly Jumers, once again provides a wide assortment of German foods, and Spaten Brau beer returns by special import arrangement. The beer has been popular in Europe for more than 600 years and is the official Munich Oktoberfest beer.

A children’s area with balloons, games, and other fun activities is planned for the youngest set of attendees on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The Heritage Tent features exhibits and information about German heritage and culture.

Oktoberfest began as part of the royal wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810. Citizens of Munich celebrated the event in the fields in front of the city gates. Today, the 16-day Munich Oktoberfest is the largest folk fest in the world and boasts more than 6 million visitors.

Admission at the gate is $6 for adults, $3 for children four to 12, and free for children three and under; a family pass is available for $15. Admission is free September 18 with the donation of a canned good prior to the mass. The canned goods will be donated to area charities.

Advance tickets may be purchased at the Peoria Civic Center at 676-8700. Advance ticket prices include a single day pass for $5 or a weekend pass for $10. Tickets also will be on sale at Lindenhof Hall on Friday evenings. For more information, call 689-3019 or visit www.peoriaparks.org/oktfest. AA!