Churchill Downs will transform its spacious 30,000-square-foot Plaza into Louisville’s largest beer garden on Friday night (Sept. 19) to celebrate Oktoberfest in true Bavarian style as “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Old Forester” returns to the historic Louisville racetrack with a 10-race program that begins at 6 p.m. (all times Eastern).
“Downs After Dark: Oktoberfest” will showcase a variety of German beers and traditional German specialty foods such as sausages, sauerkraut and pretzels. Polka music will be performed on the Plaza stage by German music ensemble The Rheingold Band and will be energized later in the night by popular regional act The Respectables, who’ll deliver the best dance music from the last five decades.
In addition to 10 races, guests will be treated to roaming accordion players and stilt-walking balloon artists, and get chances to win prizes in yodeling and “Chicken Dance” contests. Also, the popular text-to-win sweepstakes “Bet or No Bet” Sponsored by Thorntons will return as four lucky on-track patrons face a tough decision: to place a $1,000 win bet on a horse in the upcoming race or take a $100 Thorntons’ gift card. The promotion will be held on Races 6, 7, 8 and 9.
The recommended attire for guests is “fall casual” but those wearing lederhosen will likely draw special attention from the judges during a between-race “best dressed” contest.
Gates open at 4 p.m., the first race is at 6 p.m. and the final race is scheduled for 10:42 p.m. General admission is $10, reserved box seats are $20, the new 21+ Terrace Lounge is $25, Millionaires Row is $60 and 21+ Terrace Lounge VIP cabanas are $99. No one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track unless they are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
Friday’s National Weather Service forecast for Louisville calls for sunny skies with a high of 78 and an overnight low of 62.