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Organizers call annual Oktoberfest a success

By Staff | Oct 30, 2013

While the official attendance numbers were unavailable Tuesday, organizers of the 28th annual Oktoberfest at the German American Social Club of Cape Coral called this year’s event a success.

The festival, which ran Oct. 18-20 and then again Friday to Sunday, featured live entertainment, traditional German fare and drinks, a children’s carnival and raffle giveaways and contests. Tickets cost $6 or $5 in advance, and the event took place on the grounds at 2101 S.W. Pine Island Road.

Last year, about 34,700 people turned out for the festival. It typically draws 34,000 to 40,000.

“Overall, we’ve done better this year than we’ve done in previous years,” Steve Amann, the event chairman and a member of the club, said. “The attendance was a little bit higher than last year.”

He noted that it would take some time to confirm the actual numbers.

“It’s going to take us a good week before we process everything,” Amann said.

Unlike last year, when it rained one day, the weather cooperated this time.

“The first weekend was warm. It was really hot,” he said. “The second weekend was absolutely beautiful. You couldn’t ask for anything more perfect.”

Amann attributed the great weather on the second Saturday to a packed crowd. There were 12,672 people who paid at the entrance, and the club was forced to shut down parking for over an hour.

“We had no more room to park anybody else,” Amann said, adding that it was the first time the club has been faced with that predicament. “That was our biggest one day we’ve ever had on an event.”

“The second weekend was far bigger than the first weekend,” he said.

The headliner band this year was Zimmere Kapelle, from Germany. The other main acts included Barefoot Becky & the Ivanhoe Dutchmen, the Manni Daum Duo, Peter & Edith, and Hafenkapelle.

Irish dancers, Ukrainian dancers and the Lee County Pipes & Drums also performed.

“Everybody loved the bands that we had,” Amann said.

“The German band was definitely the crowd favorite,” he added.

Zimmere Kapelle played traditional German songs during the day for the older crowd, then kicked it up a notch at night for the younger crowd with surprising familiar songs like “Sweet Home Alabama.”

“They start switching into rock,” Amann said. “Not only are they great musicians, but they’re great entertainers.”

Along with the entertainment, the crowd seemed to enjoy the food and drinks.

“By the amounts of food that we did sell, and everything else, we did very well,” he said.

An estimated 42,000 to 44,000 potato pancakes were sold, compared to nearly 44,000 last year.

“We went through 4,350 pounds of raw potatoes,” Amann said. “The big sellers are always the sausages and the potato pancakes – everybody always comes for the potato pancakes.”

Approximately 8,000 bratwursts, 4,000 knackwursts and 4,000 hot dogs were sold, along with 2,400 pounds of schweinhaxen, which is roasted ham hock or pork knuckle, and 1,000 pounds of leberkaese – a German-style meatloaf. There were also chicken, pizza, burgers and other options for attendees.

For quenching thirst, Krombacher, Beck’s and Beck’s Oktoberfest were available, as well as speciality beers like Shock Top and LandShark and mainstream selections such as Budweiser and Bud Light.

“We probably went through at least 700 kegs of beer,” he said.

Sales are typically split between the imported brands and the domestic ones.

Each year, the club raffles away a grand prize of a trip for two to Germany. The trip winner picked the first weekend was Carlos Pleil, and Anton Pichler was selected the second weekend.

Other prizes handed out included four roundtrip and two one-way tickets on JetBlue, Red Sox spring training tickets at JetBlue Park, Key West Express tickets and several rounds of golf at Coral Oaks Golf Course in Cape Coral.

The JetBlue tickets went to Charles W. Knight, Ernestine Webb, Mariel Luton, Nancy Dojcsak, Barbara Porter and Ralph Swathwood.

There were beer holding contests for the men and “Chicken Dance” contests for the women.

“All in all, we had a lot of fun doing the contests and the giveaways,” he said.

Amann noted that organizers have already started planning for Oktoberfest 2014.

“We hope that it’s going to bigger and better than this year,” he said.