Dining With Denise Neil

October is here, and so is Wichita’s big Oktoberfest party

If you like beer, burgers or polka music, it’s a good weekend to be in Wichita.

ICT Bloktoberfest, a downtown Oktoberfest party now in its third year, will return to the Wichita WaterWalk this weekend with a beer tasting, a polka band, wiener dog races, a hot dog eating contest and more.

And once again, the party will include the annual Wichita Burger Battle, a fundraiser for KETCH.

ICT Bloktoberfest is put on by XClusive Event Services, the local company that owns three mobile booze trucks. Company owners and siblings Crystal McDonald and Cody Lathrop started it in 2016, inspired by the once-popular Old Town Oktoberfest that happened annually at the Old Town Farm and Art Market in the 1990s. They originally staged it on the plaza at Union Station. Last year, they moved it to the more spacious WaterWalk Plaza, 515 S. Water Street.

The event starts Friday with a beer tasting from 6 to 9 p.m. This year, McDonald said, organizers have significantly increased the number of beer vendors who will be passing out samples, and attendees will find 99 different beers to try. Admission to the tasting is $40. Several local food trucks will be parked nearby to serve the samplers. (Tickets to the beer tasting are available at xclusiveeventservices.com.)

Those who aren’t participating in the beer tasting can attend the party for free and will hear live music and be able to buy German food and beer.

On Saturday, the party runs from noon to 10 p.m. and activities include the Wiener Dog Olympics, yard games, live polka music, beer gardens, food and dessert trucks, a stein hoist, a keg-rolling contest and a costume contest that will award a prize to the person wearing the best Oktoberfest-inspired outfit. Admission to the party is free, though food and beer are extra.

One of the most popular attractions is the wiener dog races, which this year will happen at 4 p.m. McDonald said she moved the time back so as not to complete with another doggy event in town, Woofstock. People can register their dogs in advance at xclusiveeventservices.com or register them on-site.

The night will end with a concert by Groove 42 starting at 7 p.m.

ICT Burger Battle

On Saturday, the fifth annual ICT Burger Battle also will happen in conjunction with Bloktoberfest.

The event invites people to sample burgers made on-site by several local restaurants. This year, organizers have recruited 11, including new participants and past competitors: Fusion Restaurant, Chisholm’s American Beer & Ale House, The Grill at Reflection Ridge, Five Guys, Dempsey’s, LongHorn Steakhouse, Southeast Carryout, Red Robin, The Anchor, Fizz, and Pop’s Catering. They’ll be competing for a judges’ choice trophy and a people’s choice trophy.

The battle happens from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Bloktoberfest party, and in case of rain, it will move into the Gander Mountain parking garage.

General admission tickets, which include burger samples, chips, soda and dessert, are $30, and kids 12 and under get in free. VIP tickets are $50 and include a private seating area, a private dessert bar, tickets for two beers and two glasses of wine and a souvenir stein.

Tickets for the Burger Battle are available at http://ictburgerbattle.com.

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