Official calls opening weekend of Oktoberfest ‘fabulous’
With the first weekend of the 26th annual Oktoberfest all wrapped up, event organizers called it a success and are looking forward to the next one.
Hosted by the German American Social Club, the festival spans two weekends and kicked off Friday evening with an opening parade and the Cape Coral mayor helping to tap the first keg of the event – a first this year.
Paul Mills, chairman of the Oktoberfest, explained Monday that Budweiser brought in an old wooden keg and everyone gathered under the big tent.
“It was really a highlight of the night,” he said. “The tent was full.”
Mills estimated that about 19,000 people turned out for opening weekend.
“It was fabulous,” he said. “It was really good.”
“It was better than expected,” Mills added.
Though organizers were still “crunching the figures” Monday to learn the exact attendance, Saturday was definitely the busiest day out of all three.
“Saturday it was really incredible,” Mills said.
Last year’s attendance reached 35,265 over the course of both weekends. In 2009, about 32,000 showed up, while about 29,000 turned out in 2008.
Mills explained that he is hoping for 37,000 to 38,000 people this year.
“So we’re right on schedule for that,” he said.
Potato pancakes and bratwurst were the top sellers in the food category, while German beer and Bud Light went quickly among the drink booths.
Also available for sale at Oktoberfest are sausage platters, schweinhaxen and leberkaese, along with German wine, spirits and other domestic beer.
“It was very positive,” Mills said of feedback.
“The food was excellent,” he added.
The festival also features non-stop entertainment, including a band from Austria called D’Hirscheggar. Ten bands in total are scheduled to perform.
“Our music this year, our band from Austria, was just outstanding,” he said.
The first weekend ran pretty smoothly, with no major surprises.
“On opening day, there’s always something that pops up,” Mills noted.
On Saturday, organizers ran out of room in the overflow parking lot.
“We had to move traffic around, we had the police out there,” he said.
Oktoberfest will pick up again Friday, from 4 p.m. to midnight. The festival continues Saturday, from noon to midnight, and Sunday, from noon to 9 p.m. On Sunday, a non-denominational religious service is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Tickets are $6 at the gate and $5 in advance.
Children 12 and under are free, as well as those serving in the military and their families. An active military identification must be shown at the gate.
There is a children’s area with carnival rides, games and activities.
Advance tickets can be bought at Hess Expresses, Trebing Tile & Carpet, the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral and the German-American Social Club.
A portion of the proceeds goes toward charities in the Cape and surrounding areas. More than $250,000 has been given away to them in the past decade.
The German-American Social Club is at 2101 S.W. Pine Island Road.
For information, call 283-1400 or visit: www.capecoraloktoberfest.com.