St. Bernard will host a two-day German luau, bringing the favorite block party of the 1980s to life | Things to do | Cincinnati

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The weekend luau kicks off with a tapping of Wiedemann’s Luau Brau.

The concept of a German Luau may sound like a jumble of disparate events, but this Hawaiian-Bavarian block party has long been a legend in St. Bernard.

And it’s back on August 5 and 6 with a pig roast, shows, games and buckets full of beer.

The neighborhood first launched its German Luau in 1971, and the popular annual festival ran until 1984. It blended Cincinnati’s German heritage with what Marge Niesen of the St. Bernard-Ludlow Grove Historical Society calls it “the spirit of Hawaiian hospitality” in a statement.

It was a hit formula and drew huge crowds.

“We couldn’t believe how many people showed up,” former St. Bernard Mayor Charlie Vonder Muele said in a statement from one of the first luaus. “I was standing on the hill overlooking Vine Street Park, and it was just this mass of people, a lot of them drinking beer from buckets that had a little more beer in them than the mugs you get at festivals. nowadays. It was a nice moment.”

But it got too big. The German Luau was canceled after the 1984 event when they couldn’t find enough volunteers to host the party, according to the St. Bernard Recreation Department.

Then, when Wiedemann’s Fine Beer opened its bar in the neighborhood in 2018, it “spurred interest in reviving the German Luau as a community celebration,” according to a statement. The German Luau was revived in 2019 and is now back as an annual party.

This year, the two-day festival kicks off with a keg of Wiedemann’s Luau Brau in front of St. Bernard City Hall at 5 p.m. on Friday and events continue through Saturday.

Vine Street between Washington and McClelland Avenues will be closed to traffic so attendees can sample Wiedemann’s beer, served in the festival’s original German Luau beer buckets (or tumblers, steins or mugs), as well as a variety of other events.

In addition to the pork roast, there will be food trucks and food stalls, as well as games and a celebrity stand. On Saturday night, there will be a luau-themed dog costume contest. And DJ bands Wild Bill, Klaberheads, The SunBurners and Pandora Effect will play throughout the weekend.

The German Luau takes place from 5 p.m. to midnight on August 5 and from 3 p.m. to midnight on August 6 along Vine Street in St. Bernard.

For more information and to view historic German Luau photos, visit

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James R. Rhodes