If you're mourning the end of summer, it's time to embrace fall and put a little oomph and oompah in your life.
Celebrate the change of seasons the German way at one of the area's Oktoberfest bashes, which offer strong brews, hearty food, live music and activities to entertain your kids.
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5500 Park Place, Rosemont, (847) 671-2739, hofbrauhauschicago.com
The German beer hall celebrates Oktoberfest through Oct. 31 by brewing its own seasonal beer and serving a rotating list of food specials, such as a pork chop with pork belly and a schnitzel combo. Hofbräuhaus also will be selling cinnamon sugar-roasted nuts Thursday through Sunday evenings and hosting a stein-holding contest Friday and Saturday nights where competitors see who can hold a full one-liter stein in one arm the longest. Friday nights you can also catch traditional keg-tapping ceremonies.
Glendale Heights Oktoberfest
Camera Park, 101 E. Fullerton Ave., Glendale Heights, (323) 577-3893, oktoberfestdupagecounty.com
Running through Sunday, Sept. 22, the second annual fest features food from Schnitzel Platz Restaurant, Austrian and German pastries, and beer imported from the Hofbräuhaus brewery in Munich brought to you by servers in traditional German dress. After you've filled up, you can listen to German music from bands including Paloma and Alpine Thunder and shop for hats, steins and other souvenirs. Bring the kids to enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo and a pumpkin patch. Admission is $8 and free for kids younger than 11.
Arrowhead Restaurant & Bar
26W151 Butterfield Road, Wheaton, (630) 653-5800, arrowheadgolfclub.org
Chef Alan Pirhofer is whipping up a special menu from Saturday, Sept. 21, through Oct. 6 including potato pancakes, spaetzle, sauerkraut, sausages and pork shank. A new addition this year is the Jaegerschnitzel, breaded chicken cutlet served with wild mushroom-bacon sauce, spaetzle and braised red cabbage. Festivities kick off with the tapping of a firkin or Oktoberfest beer from Naperville's Solemn Oath Brewery, half-price German pretzels with dipping sauces and live music from singer-songwriter Sean Skyler.
523 S. Webster St., Naperville, (630) 420-6010, napersettlement.com
Running Oct. 4-5, the annual celebration of Naperville's heritage features German food and beer, kids' activities and bands performing both German music and classic rock. Tickets cost $5-$15.
Palatine Train Station, 150 W. Slade St., Palatine, palatinerotary.org
The Rotary Club of Palatine's annual fundraiser, which runs Friday through Sunday, Sept. 20-22, offers a full lineup of live music from German bands including Phenix and Die Musikmeisters, plus German food from Bauer's Brauhaus. If you're not a fan of brats, other vendors will be selling pizza, burgers, ribs and sweets. A keg tapping kicks things off Friday, and Saturday is family day with activities including face painting, a scarecrow parade and performances from local school groups. Free admission.
Oak Brook Park District Oktoberfest
1450 Forest Gate Road, Oak Brook, (630) 990-4233, obparks.org
Drink beers from Warrenville's Two Brothers Brewery with German fare and barbecue from Sweet Baby Ray's at the third annual fest on Saturday, Sept. 21. The bash also features live music from cover bands The New Invaders and 7th Heaven and plenty of kids' activities including pony rides, crafts and a pumpkin walk.
Vernon Hills Oktoberfest
Vernon Hills Metra Station, 75 E. Route 45, Vernon Hills, (847) 367-3700, vernonhills.org
The seventh annual family-focused celebration on Saturday, Sept. 28, features pumpkin painting, hayrides, inflatables, a petting zoo and live music from Kaleidoscope Eyes and UFC Band. Local nonprofits sell food and beer.
The Bavarian Lodge
1800 Ogden Ave., Lisle, (630) 241-4701, bavarian-lodge.com
The bar is hosting nightly pig roasts from Saturday, Sept. 21, through the end of October, where the suckling pig is served with potatoes and sauerkraut. Order it with one of their rotating German and American Oktoberfest beers.