I want to address some of the confusion and questions that have arisen around the Oktoberfest festival.
First, I want to clear up that the City did not cancel or change Oktoberfest for this year. When the City met with Projekt Bayern back in March, they sought out the City to get our feedback on whether they would be allowed to hold Oktoberfest this fall. At that time, we were just getting into full swing with the vaccines, and it looked very promising for the fall event. At the same time, we were in Phase 1 still, and I did tell them that I did not have a crystal ball to tell me what would happen this fall, so it might be that due to COVID, they may have to limit their numbers or otherwise modify the event in order to hold it. We left that meeting thinking that there could be a Leavenworth Oktoberfest this fall.
However, shortly after that meeting, perhaps as Projekt Bayern delved further into their plans and the availability of their suppliers, we learned that the full Oktoberfest would be cancelled again this year, and instead it would be a smaller version. I believe, and it was stated in a press release, that they felt it would still be difficult to do because of COVID. However, this was in no way a decision made by the City. We were ready to support them to hold it in some form, just as we worked with the Autumn Leaf Festival Association to hold that event, even if somewhat altered because of COVID.
It is true that we terminated the contract with Projekt Bayern moving forward in 2022 and beyond. This was not done to take away the festival from this group, but rather to issue new terms and conditions that we felt were important to the City as we move forward. The main items we sought in any new agreement were the following: 1) A smaller footprint, not using all our parking lots for the beer gardens. We felt this was important because we now have closed most of Front Street, need the parking more than ever, and want some relief for our residential neighborhoods. 2) Having some events throughout the week, in order to alleviate heavy crowds and attract festival goers at times other than just the weekend. 3) Feature our local breweries to a great extent. (This does not mean you can’t also have German beers, but we need to put our own craft brews front and center.) 4) Have more family events for those who want something besides the beer gardens.
In response to the Request for Proposal the City put out, Projekt Bayern did not choose to address the requested changes, submitting a proposal to run the event exactly as they have been doing. Moving forward, we will be having a traditional German-style event. It will have beer. It will be different than what happened in years past. And, it will be a win – win for our local businesses, our residents, and our guests.
The event put on in October 2022 will be run by SE Productions, a company that already has experience with events in Leavenworth, and is excited about working with us to make this event more sustainable for our community as we move forward. In that spirit, we hope you will join us in tipping a stein to 2022!
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