Local festival expands to two weekends to celebrate all things goetta
By Keely Brown
Goetta—a German-inspired dish made of pork, beef, oats and seasonings—is a true Cincinnati classic and will be celebrated this summer in a big way.
Glier’s Goettafest, an annual festival featuring the locally revered cuisine, is expanding into an eight-day event over two weekends. This year’s festival will take place at Newport’s Festival Park on the Levee July 25-28 and Aug. 1-4.
The first Goettafest was originally a thank you party for customers, says Kerry Schall, marketing director and special events coordinator at Glier’s Meats, Inc. The small goetta gathering was a big hit and the event gradually evolved into what it is today.
“We just couldn’t believe the support that the community had for this festival,” says Schall. “The next year, it became much more of a production and it has grown and grown ever since.”
Almost 20 years later, Goettafest is no longer a small party for goetta fanatics—the event hosted over 200,000 people in 2018 and Schall estimates over 300,000 festivalgoers will attend the double-weekend celebration this year.
Admission to Goettafest is free, and attendees can enjoy delicious food, live music, dancing and goetta-themed games.
The festival features 10 vendors who are required to follow Goettafest’s strict food policy. These rules allow culinary artists three goetta items, two non-goetta items and one dessert. No duplicates are permitted on individual menus, enabling chefs to demonstrate their creativity and showcase their specialties.
Each vendor cooks up goetta recipes with a special twist for festivalgoers to sample. Every item has a max of $6 so attendees are able to sample everything at a reasonable price, says Schall.
“There’s always something different for someone to try—with over 45 items, you can come all eight days and probably not eat everything,” says Schall. “There’s a lot of options to choose from.”
If the food doesn’t convince you to head down to the Levee, the music will. Goettafest will host over 30 different country and rock artists. These bands—featuring local favorites Hi-Fi Honey, Swan and the Tyler Moore Band—will perform on two stages all weekend long.
“A lot of the other festivals around don’t have country music, so we bring that music for the big country crowd in Cincinnati,” says Schall.
Goettafest is a family-friendly event with plenty of activities for kids including a goetta toss and history booth, bounce houses, hamster balls, balloon darts, face painting, dunk tanks and more. The festival also features the world’s only goetta vending machine.
And that’s not all— Glier’s Meats gives back to the community as well.
“All proceeds from these games go to charity,” says Schall. “We make those very reasonable. A kid can come in to play games for $1. It’s a lot of fun and it’s really a great atmosphere for families.”
Although goetta may be an odd meat mixture for some, it’s a culinary creation that brings many local families and friends together.
“I’ve actually had people cry and hug me because of how goetta has touched them in their lives,” says Schall. “It’s neat the way that Cincinnati just embraces this product, our festival and the things that we do.”