Live polka, sausages, dozens of German beers, a crowded dance floor, an authentic bier hall setting, a low cover at the door for live entertainment. Everything on this list is awesome. I shouldn’t have to convince you that this is a good idea. A weekend visit to Blob’s Park is, intrinsically, a good idea.
Max Blob’s Park, in Jessup, MD, is easily the most authentically German-American experience to be had in the DC area. Note the intentional use of the hyphenate here. I don’t believe that your ubermodern, jelly-donut loving Berliner is going to walk into this bier hall and feel at home. It will, however, feel very familiar to folks of any age from Cincinnati to Chicago to Lubbock. You can see it in the audience which is full of everything from young parents to local enlisted to polka-loving gramps. I did not grow up in a polka house but on my first visit to Blob’s Park, I walked around the place with my mouth hanging open. “Everything okay?” Mike asked. I looked around. Everything my eyes landed on could have been lifted directly from my parents house, from the beer steins to the dusty Hummel figurines to the food to every third guy who looked like my uncle John. I was floored. Was this a polka hall or my family reunion? “I had no idea I was so freaking German,” I told him.
Food, beer, and the Blob’s Park story after the jump.
Blob’s Park started out as a family party space in 1925 when Max Blob, a freshly arrived immigrant who I guess wanted to capitalize on his bummer last name, built it as a private space for family celebrations. It evolved into several forms until we get to what stands today: an soaring testament to Maryland’s undying love for polka, beer, and anything quirky. Our first visit to Blob’s Park in September of 2007 turned out to be a bittersweet one: the Park was officially closing on New Year’s to succumb to real estate development. Like children whose newest, most favorite toys were taken away we were crushed.
Blob’s Park is one of the few family-owned businesses that has been saved by the recession. The Park went dark as planned and the land was sold. Then the economy went to sauerkraut and development slowed. The dancehall and parking lot were bought back from developers and the Park was open again, fresh with new developments including a longer bar and updated restrooms. Don’t get any wild ideas. This is primarily an unsophisticated space; think an enormous Lion’s Club Hall – the space can hold about 900 people.
The beer on hand at Blob’s Park is an outstanding representation of traditional German styles, including labels you aren’t likely to find outside of a import-beer focused restaurant like Birreria or Granville Moore’s. The food is definitely German and very bier hall flavored. Ever since the reopening, most dinners are served all-you-can-eat buffet style, with ample white sausages, sauerkraut, white potatoes, schnitzel, and steamed vegetables to be had for the taking. If you call ahead to reserve a table, which we do recommend for nights with more popular bands, you will be assigned a helpful no-fuss waitress to make sure your beer pitchers are full and empty plates are cleared.
If you’ve never been to Blob’s Park, or never seen the jubilant wonder that is live polka, this is the perfect time of year to start. Oktoberfest is upon us and every Saturday night from September 19 to the end of October, Blob’s Park features special uberrad Oktoberfest events, and all with a cover of $15 or less.
Really, even if polka and German culture aren’t your thing, Max Blob’s Park is worth at least one visit for the unique kitsch it represents. It’s a dying breed of entertainment, one that is only available today because of an economic downturn. Hopefully the Park – and polka – is here to stay.