Dining With Denise Neil

Saturday Bloktoberfest draws big crowds, names Wiener King

It’s safe to say that Xclusive Event Services is on to something with its ICT Bloktoberfest.

The new event happened Saturday in the big new plaza in front of the just-renovated Union Station in downtown Wichita, and it was packed. Organizers estimate that 4,000 people – about twice the number they were expecting – turned out on the sunny fall afternoon to sample sausage, drink beer, listen to polka and watch wiener dogs race that at times it was hard to move around.

I was one of the judges on Saturday charged with choosing a “King Wiener” winner. We sampled sausages put together by 12 local businesses, who got to dream up a recipe then make their sausages themselves at Douglas Avenue Chop Shop. All of the sausage samples were outstanding, but the most outstanding, we decided, came from the Nitro Joe’s booth. Local farmer and foodie Jimmy Vo, owner of Kan-Grow Hydro Farm, was manning the booth, and he created a perfect Asian-flavored sausage bite that he served atop a bed of sticky rice and topped with Asian veggies he’d grown.

The people’s choice award in the sausage competition went to Specs Eyewear, and Wichita Brewing Company won the beer tasting contest for its Yumpkin Pumpkin beer.

Another big highlight of the day was wiener dog races, which drew dozens of fleet-footed dachshunds. You must watch my colleague Oliver Morrison’s video about the races, which includes an introduction to the several of the race’s cutest squatty-bodied runners and their people.

Xclusive is owned by Crystal McDonald and Cody Lathrop that includes a mobile bar tending service and a local beer truck, and the siblings said they were inspired by the once-popular Old Town Oktoberfest, which happened annually in the Old Town Farm and Art Market until the late 1990s. They always attended with their father when they were children.

They say they’ll definitely stage the event again next year.

Scroll through my pictures, which also include some fun shots of people who really dressed for the event.

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