Bockfest promises plenty of beer, 'athleticism' at this year's event

CINCINNATI — Blessed be thy beer. Holy is thy name.

It's time once again for Bockfest, that annual Queen City event where a keg receives a Catholic blessing, people parade around Downtown with goats and one lucky lady (usually) is crowned "The Sausage Queen."

Bockfest organizer Steven Hampton is excited for the celebration of the dark German beer consumed during spring festivals, which is now in its 24th year.

“We are really growing it this year,” said Hampton, executive director of the OTR Brewery District. “People will see a little bit of everything. There are just really a lot of fun things.”

Festivities start at 8 p.m. Wednesday with “The Bock Beer Experience Preview,” a ceremonial tapping of 17 Bock beers at Arnold’s Bar & Grill. The official Hudy Bock 2016 first tapping and free T-shirt giveway takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday at Arnold’s.

Both events build up to the parade that officially kicks off Bockfest at 6 p.m. Friday outside the bar. Revelers will make their way through Downtown and into Over-the-Rhine, where the spectacle ends with a party at Bockfest Hall, at 1619 Moore St. The party, along with a host of other Bockfest-related activities throughout Over-the-Rhine, continues through Sunday.

New events this year include the “Bocklympics” from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at Bockfest Hall.

“This kind of grew out of a game called fowling played at the tap house,” Hampton said. He described the game as a combination of cornhole, bowling and football. Bockfest organizers partnered with Cincinnati Neighborhood Games to bring classics like pop-a-shot and other competition games to Bockfest Hall as well.

Bockfest is also introducing a Bock beer tasting from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday inside the Bockfest Hall festival tent, along with a lecture and exhibit series from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Woodward Theater and Washington Platform the same day.

Bockfest Hall also will host brunches, dinners, the Bockfest 5K run and brewery tours on the following days:

Saturday, March 5: Bockfest 5K at 10 a.m.; The Bockfest Experience, 1-6 p.m.; and the Sausage Queen Crowning at 7:30 p.m.;
Sunday, March 6:  Stein and Breweriana Show, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Bockfeast Dinner, noon-2 p.m.; and German music and dancing, 1-7 p.m.

More than dozen other Downtown and OTR businesses are also holding Bockfest-related festivities throughout the weekend.

Click here for a schedule of participating businesses and events. There also will be a free shuttle running between venues 7-11 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

“One of the big points of this festival is to celebrate the neighborhood and all that is great about it,” Hampton said.

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