You don’t have to head to Bavaria to celebrate German culture. Throw a dart at an Iowa map, and you’re bound to hit a German area — after all, almost 40 percent of Iowans claim “German” as their ethnic background.

And like the Oktoberfest in Munich — which celebrates the fall harvest for several weeks during the end of September and beginning of October — Iowa communities are sharing in the fun. Here are a few you might want to visit:

Dubuque, Sept. 17: Oktoberfest Cruises. Join the Celebration Belle as they polka their way up and down the Mississippi River with two cruises, one from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the other from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen will om-pah’ing their way through the cruise. Go to for more info, or call 800-297-0034.

Cedar Falls, Sept. 19-20: Oktoberfest in the Cedar Valley. Featuring Bavarian and local bands, food vendors, kids’ activities and more. Gates open at 4 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday in Cedar Falls’ Gateway Park. Go to for more info.

Des Moines, Sept. 25: Zooktoberfest. The Blank Park Zoo’s Zoo Brew is back with an Oktoberfest twist. Live music, the best seasonal beers, traditional food, pretzel necklaces and, of course, a handful of zoo friends. Must be 21 or over to attend. For more info, go to or call 515-285-4722.

Quad Cities, Sept. 25: Oktoberfest Cruise. The Celebration Belle will be moving downstream to the Quad Cities for this cruise and includes all the bands and food that the Sept. 17 cruises in Dubuque are offering. For more information, go to or call 800- 297-0034.

Marshalltown, Sept. 25-28: Oktemberfest. Filled with family fun, activities during the weekend include a children’s fun run with the crowning of Little Mr. & Miss Oktemberfest on Thursday, a classic car show on Friday, a 5K/10K run/walk and parade on Saturday, and a carnival all four days. For more information, go to or 641-752-4895.

Des Moines, Sept. 26-27: Oktoberfest. Contests for beer maidens and stein holding, polka dancing and prizes for those who dress up. Admission charged. Located south of Court on 4th Street. Go to

Iowa City, Sept. 27: Northside Oktoberfest. This celebration showcases the Bohemian nature of the Northside Marketplace with events that transport visitors to the streets of Munich. With polka music, traditional Oktoberfest attire and events, and the annual Iowa City Brew Fest, you’ll get a taste of the Old World. For more information, go to or call 319-354-0863.

Northwood, Sept. 27. Oktoberfest & BBQ. Public BBQ tasting as part of a contest, and all the BBQ you can eat for $10. German beers, inflatables for kids. Located at the Worth County Fairgrounds. Go to

Amana Colonies, Oct. 3-5: Oktoberfest. Be there for the Tapping of the Oktoberfest Keg on Friday, Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. Various bands will be playing throughout the weekend in the outdoor biergarten, and Amana brats will be served. Parade, art show and lots more. Several area hotels are offering stays that include shuttles to the festivities. Go to

Manning, Oct. 11: Oktoberfest. Vote for your favorite beer while listening to a banjo duo from Germany playing folk tunes. Games, bands and a German meal (reservations required). Admission charged. Go to, or call 712-655-3131.

Remsen, Oct. 25: Oktoberfest. A celebration of the community’s Luxembourg and German heritage, this festivity includes beer keg tapping, all-you-can-eat German feast and a children’s Bavarian costume and dance contest. Go to

Van Kooten is a freelance writer from Pella.