Hofbräu, Lederhosen, and Sausage–Oh My! – Maifest 2018 in Chicago

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It’s June in the great city of Chicago, and that can only mean one thing: the German festival of Maifest. Wait, that can’t be right…

Maifest in Chicago

The winters are brutal in Chicago. And since every action has an equal and opposite reaction, you can find street festivals almost every weekend in the summer. Locals will take any chance they get to spend time outside, particularly with beer in hand. Every fest combines some level of beer, food, and music though there’s been a lot of complaints recently that corporate interests are ruining the individual identity of some festivals.

Not Maifest.

Maifest is unique in that it holds onto it’s German (specifically Bavarian) roots with a death grip. Put on by the Dank Haus, Maifest (which is held in June for reasons that I don’t quite know) is ostensibly another street party: they sell beer and sausages, live bands play drunken ballads like “Sweet Caroline”, and they set up carnival games for those who can’t/don’t want to drink. All round, the event is a good ol’ time for everyone.

Banner at Maifest Chicago

That German Feel

Visitors dress up wearing Lederhosen, drinking Hofbräu, and eating smoked meats. There’s one band (not sure of their name) who plays every year. They play some polka, some rock songs, and some old German drinking songs.

Band at Maifest Chicago

I imagine at one point they gave out real beer steins, though those days are long gone (probably for cost as well as safety reasons). But they still give you a whopping quantity of beer.


When I say that people wore Lederhosen and traditional Bavarian dress, I’m not saying that some people did—a lot of people did. Prime example, about half of the people working the event dressed for the occasion. Unfortunately, this is one of the least conspicuous photos I could take:

Food Tent - Maifest - Chicago

Speaking of Food…

This isn’t my first year at Maifest (or the corresponding autumn celebration Oktoberfest). Every year, I forget about the food, and every year it stirs the deepest corners of my soul. Being from the midwest, my love of smoked pork comes from a different origin, but it’s a common bond I share with the German street fests. How can you not go nuts seeing a multitude of meat being cooked over open flame?

Sausages - Maifest - Chicago

And in case you could still feel the blood moving in your arteries, how about two types of cake?

Chocolate Cake - Maifest - Chicago

Apple Cake - Maifest - Chicago

To make it a family event, there were carnival games set up. We didn’t play any of them because we spent our tickets on booze and cake, but it’s a nice family-friendly option. Though (and I’m only half joking when I say this), it’s mostly an excuse to eat meat and drink beer outdoors.

Carnival Games - Maifest - Chicago

As a whole, if you come to Chicago in the warm months (as few as they are), street fests like Maifest are more than worth your time to explore. Grab a beer, a sausage, and talk to strangers. We’re all pretty nice here.

Read on…

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  1. As soon as I saw the word Hofbräu I had to read your post. It brought back memories of visiting the Hofbräuhaus in Munich last December, such great fun & fantastic memories.
    I love the fact that it doesn’t matter where these events are held around the world the lederhosens get dusted off, you can’t beat swinging a Bavarian stein to an Oompah band. #farawayfiles

    1. Author

      I imagine this pales in comparison, but it’s as close to real German bierfest as I’ll get state-side. I see you get the idea of why I love this festival!

  2. At least you got a good sized beer in a nice glass. The one time I went to an “Oktoberfest” in the States it came in a smmalllll dixie cup and cost me $8 🙁 #FarawayFiles

  3. I love a good festival! Especially if it involves lederhosen. So much more fun when people get in the spirit #FarawayFiles

  4. My family heritage is like 3/4 German, so I am familiar with a lot of the foods and it’s no mystery why I like a good beer now and then! You are right that Chicago brings out all these citywide and also local neighborhood festivals come the summer months when you don’t have to shovel the snow away from your front door to get outside! #FarawayFiles

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