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Attendance climbs at Oktoberfest

By Staff | Oct 31, 2012

Attendance at the 27th annual Oktoberfest was slightly higher than the previous year, while the inaugural 5K Run and Tot Trot was a huge hit.

Hosted by the German American Social Club of Cape Coral, the festival is held over two weekends, running Friday through Sunday for each. This year, Oktoberfest kicked off Oct. 19 and wrapped up the final weekend Sunday.

“We’re excited. We think it was a good year,” Stephen Amann, event chairman, said Tuesday.

An estimated 17,265 people showed up the first weekend and approximately 17,033 people attended the second weekend – a total of 34,298 visitors.

“We have no problem with that number,” he said. “We were higher than last year, for sure.”

In 2011, an estimated 30,000 people attended the festival. He explained that a big rainstorm during the second weekend had an impact on the final total.

“So, the attendance was down last year,” Amann said.

This year, the weather cooperated and there were no surprises.

Like most years, the hottest seller at Oktoberfest – beer.

“We went though over 700 kegs,” he said, adding that there are an estimated 256 glasses in each keg of beer. “You do the math.”

Other top sellers included potato pancakes and German sausages.

The headliner for the festival was Maselheimer Musikanten, a band from Germany. Also performing were Hafenkapelle, Manni Daum and son Jason, Peter and Edith, Eddie Korosa Jr., Peter DeFranco, and Northern Sounds.

“Every single one of them are great musicians,” Amann said.

Contests spanned from the polka and The Chicken Dance, to beer mug holding. Prizes were also awarded based on raffle and entry tickets.

“We gave away four tickets for trips to Germany via Air Berlin, and those trips were for couples,” he said. “We also gave away four tickets on JetBlue Airways to anywhere they fly.”

A portion of the proceeds raised at the event goes to charity.

“There’s a whole list that we give to,” Amann said.

As of Tuesday, the 2012 list of recipients had not been decided.

In past years, charities that have benefited included Oma’s Heart, the Brotherhood, Caleb’s Crusaders and the Cape Coral Police Explorers.

“They come here and they work with us,” he said of the Explorers who volunteer during Oktoberfest. “The kids do a fantastic job for us.”

For the first time, the German American Social Club partnered with Lee County Electric Cooperative to host a 5K Run and Tot Trot. An estimated 200 runners participated in the adult course alone, according to Amann.

“It was extremely successful,” he said. “It looks like we will be holding that every single year as part of the Oktoberfest.”

The United Way benefits from the proceeds from the event.

The German American Social Club is at 2101 S.W. Pine Island Road.