HOME entertainment kids area dining / food about sponsors directions photos Hall of Fame

Columbus Oktoberfest Hall of Fame
Established September 23, 2011 in honor of George F Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt established the Columbus Oktoberfest in 1965. Over the years Columbus Oktoberfest has been held in several locations from Schiller Park in the German Village area to The Ohio State Fairgrounds. Oktoberfest has provided German culture, food, music and enjoyment to the residents of Central Ohio. In conjunction with the German Village Society and Mr. Schmidt, The German Village Oktoberfest was operated throughout the community for several years and now has returned to the Schmidt family as The Columbus Oktoberfest. Over the years many members of the community have been influential in the development and promotion of the event. Hence the Hall of Fame committee wish’s to elect each year a deserving individual to The Columbus Oktoberfest Hall of Fame.


2011 - Fred Holdrige
Fred Holdridge, born in Lima, Ohio was a shopkeeper, community activist, newspaper columnist, bon vivant, movie critic and world traveler. He and his life and business partner Howard Burns also were ardent advocates of the arts and historic German Village. Fred served for many years as president of the German Village Society and it was his vision and leadership that brought Oktoberfest back to German Village . No one enjoyed a party as much as Fred, and the German Village Oktoberfest was the “Best Party in Town.” “The Fun Bunch” It also became the German Village Society’s major annual fundraiser. Over several years, the German Village Oktoberfest raised funds for German Village projects, including purchase and renovation of the German Village Meeting Haus. You can be sure Fred is present in spirit each year when the first keg is tapped at Oktoberfest.


2011 - George F. Schmidt
George F. Schmidt was born in Columbus in 1921 and spent most of his life in Upper Arlington. Today he resides in Worthington with his wife Patsy. George attended both John Carroll University and the University of Dayton along with serving as a pilot for the U.S. Navy. Upon returning from his naval duties he joined the family meat packing business and ran it alongside his brother Grover. In the mid-60s the meat packing plant was closed and George renovated the old livery stable into Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus, at the same time he was growing his family business he was also helping to build the Columbus Oktoberfest through his vision and leadership.

George has been a member of several organizations such as the Northwest Kiwanis, Charity Newsies, Columbus Maennechor and the March of Dimes in addition to being a wonderful self-taught water color artist. George has turned the day to day operation of the restaurant over to his six children but remains the Chairman of the Board for J. Fred Schmidt Packing House Co. George enjoys watching his 15 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren grow and delights in seeing them enjoy the Columbus Oktoberfest. George will celebrate his 91st birthday this August and continues to be the guiding light in the production of the Columbus Oktoberfest.


2012 - Aaron Leventhal
When Fred Holdridge decided that Oktoberfest should return to German Village, one of the first people he contacted was Aaron Leventhal. Armed with only $1,000 in seed money and donated office space, in just six months, Leventhal, an accomplished special event fundraiser, pulled together sponsors, entertainers, vendors, and a volunteer force of more than 1,000 to create the German Village Oktoberfest in the Brewery District, Sept. 5-7, 1986. None of this would have been possible without the generous support of the Schmidt family, who had held the Oktoberfest for several years at the Ohio Expo Center. During Leventhal’s 15 years of producing the German Village Oktoberfest, it raised more than $2 million for German Village Society historic preservation and community service projects and in 2000 was named by the American Bus Association as one of the Top 100 events in North America.


2013 - Bill Curliss
Bill began volunteering for Oktoberfest the year it came to the Brewery District as the first Fred Holdridge and Aaron Leventhal production. He chaired the communications committee, because he was the only one who knew how to use the radios! He later took over the volunteer coordination from Bob Balthaser (because, apparently he is good at alphabetizing as well as radio operations) and joined the Oktoberfest Steering Committee in 1992. Over a gourmet dinner at White Castle in 1997, Fred revealed his plans to step down as Chairman, and asked Bill to accept the leadership role. Bill served as Chairman of Oktoberfest for 10 years, through the 2008 event. He was recognized by the International Association of Festivals & Events as one of the top 3 volunteers of the year in 2001.


2014 - Roger Dini
Roger Dini was born outside Chicago, Illinois and became interested in playing the accordion at the age of fourteen. By the time he went off to college, he had started a band. The band played at various venues around the Chicago area as well as at weddings, class reunions, VFWs, American Legions and various other events. He would later go on to give accordion lessons.
After moving to Columbus, Roger became aquatinted with George Schmidt and was given the job of hiring and scheduling bands for the Columbus Oktoberfest. This was a task he throughly enjoyed for several years until it was turned over to the German Village Society. His greatest satisfaction during that time was discovering a band near Toledo, Ohio. He immediately booked Tommy Shober and the Sound of Sorgenbrecher thirty years ago and they have become the house band every year since.
Since 1972, Rodger’s band, Schnickel Fritz, has had the pleasure of performing at Schmidt’s Restaurants – first at the Patio at Morse and Karl Roads since 1979 at the German Village location. The band has also performed at many Ohio festivals over the years to include the Cincinnati Oktoberfest, Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival, Marion Popcorn Festival, and at many private events. One of his greatest thrills happened in 1984 when Schnickel Fritz was honored to be invited to perform for one week at the Epcot-Disney World® German Pavillion. Roger has never lost his thrill for entertaining and still loves playing with his bandmate and friend, Tom Swisher.
Roger has been married to Arlene for 61 years. Together they have four children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.



facebook   twitter

Weatherproof event!
100,000 sq ft of covered space
Ohio Expo Center /
Ohio State Fairgrounds

Want to volunteer?
Click here to help.

Friday: 5pm - 12 Midnight
Saturday: 12 Noon - 12 Midnight
Sunday: 12 Noon - 8pm
$10 parking