Photo Courtesy: Jeff Auger

New programs and an expanded festival footprint led to increased food and beverage sales for local businesses and vendors

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – ArtsQuest’s 11th annual Oktoberfest, presented by Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), returned to the SteelStacks campus supporting local businesses, performers and vendors. An estimated 42,000 people attended the outdoor festival which took place the first two weekends of October (Fri. Oct. 1-3 and 8-10).

“It was a joy to welcome the public back to our campus for this popular festival,” Kassie Hilgert, President and CEO of ArtsQuest said. “This year’s mix of programming, paired with support from our corporate and community partners, hit just the right note. The numbers show there was clearly an appetite for this event, and it was great to see people of all ages enjoying the fall fun.”

The festival featured craft beers from Yuengling, Hofbräu, Samuel Adams, Dogfish Head and more. More than a dozen retailers and crafters set up shop at the Künstler Markt (crafters village). Hungry festival goers also had their pick of festival fare from Karl Ehmer’s Smoked Meats, to desserts from Waffle de Lys, to chef creations from Palette & Pour, the new full-service bar and quick-service kitchen located on the first floor of the ArtsQuest Center. Early indications, from a number of the small businesses operating at the festival, show food and beverage sales were up significantly when compared to both 2019 and 2018.

“This year’s Oktoberfest was a wonderful and rewarding experience,” Leo Osanitsch of Karl Ehmer Smoked Meats said. “Thank you to the organizers, staff and volunteers with ArtsQuest and a huge thank you to all of the patrons who continue to support our business. For us, it’s not just about selling our product, we enjoy sharing and celebrating German heritage. It’s fulfilling to be able to do something like this and interact with the diverse crowd who attends this annual festival.”

Highlights of this year’s Oktoberfest included Pierogipalooza, an experiential dining experience. The new event, originally scheduled for one day only on Sat., Oct. 2, was so popular, it returned on the second Saturday of the festival. Attendees purchased passports and sampled their choice of any six pierogi creations at different spots on the SteelStacks campus.

After sweating out the minutes for years, Oktoberfest 2021 became the official site of the Pennsylvania State Steinholding Championship. The championship, produced in partnership with the US Steinholding Association and presented by Samuel Adams, culminated during the finals on Sun., Oct. 10.

ArtsQuest also expanded the festival footprint, offering free musical performances Friday and Saturday nights during Oktoberfest on the Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks stage, presented by Coordinated Health, now part of Lehigh Valley Health Network. Acts included Boat House Row – A Yacht Rock Experience, The Discoteks, Renaissance Orchestra and Vanessa Collier.

Dragtoberfest, presented by Jack Daniels, and the Hasselhoff-off contest drew lively audiences to the Oktoberfest Arena. The adorable dachshund dog parades and races also returned, delighting attendees of all ages. Other activities included axe-throwing and the Kong Pong Tourney, presented by Yuengling.

Aside from Oktoberfest, ArtsQuest provides countless opportunities for the community to enjoy, year-round, including different musical, artistic, cultural and educational experiences on its campus at the SteelStacks and Banana Factory. To ensure the future of ArtsQuest, visit