We had a great, if not long, meeting today for our Oktoberfest. This year it is going to be held on October 2nd and 3rd, and its shaping up to be quite an event.
We started talking about holding an Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill about a year before we actually started brewing beer. In terms of celebrations you could have, I'm hard pressed to think of one that is more fun and we've always liked the idea of bringing people to our little town.
Two years ago we held a mini-Oktoberfest on the front lawn of our brewery. About 200 people showed up for a taste of our (then) new seasonal, Night Marzen, toss a keg and hang out for the day.
Last year, we decided to step it up about 2,000 notches, booked out the fairgrounds, got live oompah bands, made custom dirndles, arranged for homebrewing demonstrations, brought 10 seriously delicious restaurants out and worked out haywagon rides to bring visitors back and forth to the brewery for tours. Things got crazy when our friend and Member of Barleyment (the homebrewers group) founder, Alan McKay got wind that George Wendt would be releasing a book about his relationship with beer and was able to suggest to George's PR firm that our little Oktoberfest would be a great stop on his book promotion tour.
It took a fair bit of convincing, but somehow George agreed to come up and join us. This seemed to be the final gem that made people decide to come up and visit, because on the day of we were completely overrun by happy guests...
We've taken a lot of steps to make sure we're better prepared this year including:
- Lots more tents incase the weather doesn't cooperate (and heaters, too)
- Lots more food (twice as many restaurants)
- Different stage set up and layout so that there is a better view, and more room to dance to the oompah
- lots more beer taps flowing to cut down lines
- no more food tickets - pay each restaurant direct
- lots more portapotties
- lots more tables
- on site camping (rough camping, nothing fancy, but VKH doesn't have a lot of accomodations)
- more haywagons bringing people to more destinations
- more beer (extra batches of our seasonals, plus 3 special one-off batches, plus Volo Cask Days, a cask festival featuring beer from several Ontario breweries)
- More beer-centric attractions, including Beer expert Mirella Amato, an Art of Beau's at the Arbor Gallery
- Many more staff on hand to help out
...and a whole lot more. We fully plan on making our Oktoberfest an annual event to mark in your Calendar and think we've raised the bar significantly. George won't be able to make it this year, but we're working hard at bringing out a few familiar faces to add a splash of celebrity to the event, but we can't quite announce anything yet...