Lederhosen, alpine hats and Stella Artois filled the stands at Churchill Downs for Oktoberfest-themed Downs after Dark on Friday September 19. The theme mirrored the German Oktoberfest.
The entire 30,000 sq. ft. Plaza at Churchill Downs was transformed into a beer garden. Drinks, as always, were pricey on Friday night, but no one seemed to care after they won a couple bucks from their bets. But not everything Churchill Downs offered Friday night was geared toward the 21+ crowd, because the majority of events were available to everyone. Downs hired two stilt entertainers from Cincinnati Carnival, dressed as Hansel and Gretel, several accordian players playing old German tunes and a band. The Replacements, the local band, played music ranging from “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” to “It’s All about the Bass,” to “Jump on It.”
“We are playing the best damn dance music since 1964 to 2014 tonight!” the lead singer said.
The Downs after Dark crowd seemed to decrease the median age as the night went one, and by 9:30 that night, there were almost none of the several hundred families who had been there just a few hours before, when the college-aged crowd took over.
Ben Schreck, a junior was there with his friend Adam McKnight, won over $300 Friday night betting on mostly the favorites.“There is so much hype around it,” he said.Another student, Margaret Senn, said she only comes because of the themes, but she also said that the theme on Friday night didn’t quite make sense to her. She was there with her two friends and fellow cardinals Marina Bowman and Jarrett Stich, and there was a special celebration for those three because it was Stich’s birthday. Another student, Chloe Rosbottom, sophomore, said she came to have fun, bet on a race, and dance, and it seemed that she had successfully completed her missions by the end of the night.
Most people left the track with a little bit less cash in their wallets, but their spirits flied high as their designated drivers cranked up the volume to their cars on the way out of the parking lot.