Bockfest 2018

Bockfest 2018

Bockfest is one of my favorite events to participate in Cincinnati. It is a celebration based on the bock style beer that nourished monks during their fasting before Lent. It is also a way to share and showcase the history of Over the Rhine, especially its brewing heritage. What most people don’t realize about this neighborhood is that its roots go back into the late nineteenth century when it was a stopping point for German immigrants on their way west when the only way to travel was via river.

A short primer on Bockfest

The area itself grew incredibly quickly and became one of the most populous centers of the time. The architecture, most of which remains today, is one of the best collections of its kind in North America. It is the years since this time including Prohibition, suburban flight, and international competition in Cincinnati’s manufacturing and machining industries that continued to shape it through the end of the twentieth century. The crime epidemic that peaked in the early 2000s and the concentration of poverty nearly relegated the area to the dustbin of history. As the population crashed and buildings were routinely boarded up, so did the spirits of those who loved the neighborhood. However, much of that has changed and investment in Over the Rhine is greater than ever. New storefronts, condos, restaurants, and living spaces are popping up everywhere. People like myself who did spend time down there a decade or so ago hardly recognize it today.

How I ended up a tour guide for Bockfest

Several years ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to join him in volunteering time for Bockfest. I wanted to help share by leading tours that visit the old lagering cellars, brew and malt houses, and bottling plants that thrived in the area. Given my interest in history and love of beer it seemed like a great way to spend a few hours. When I arrived though, my expectations were changed quickly. I thought I’d spend my first go around pointing the way to the bathrooms but was promoted quickly, and unexpectedly, to a location guide. I had a few minutes to learn the script and be able to speak about it. It was a crash course in public speaking on the fly, for sure.

The years since my first experience have seen me leading several different groups as well as volunteering at various locations along the tour, particularly the old Crown Brewery. The money I help raise goes directly to support the Brewing Heritage Trail. I am looking forward to the day when this project is completed and other people can go down, see the various murals, and learn about all of the points of interest on it.

If you are interested in learning more about Bockfest, you can visit HERE.

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