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Oktoberfest’s record success a perfect storm

By Staff | Oct 28, 2014

Not many people in Florida like to hear the phrase “perfect storm.”

But for the organizers of the annual Oktoberfest at the German American Social Club, it was a good thing, as six perfect weather days, combined with the road expansion and a great advertising campaign that targeted those who read and speak German contributed to make one of Cape Coral’s signature events one of the most successful ever.

There were no official numbers as of late Tuesday, but those associated with the event said most or all records were set during the two weekends.

“We had record everything, record attendance, revenues and sales. So we have new targets to shoot for next year,” said Oktoberfest vice-chairman Steve Eichner.

With so many outdoor activities, weather tends to be a main factor for success, and this year was no exception. The new highway also contributed by eliminating the traffic snarls that plagued the event in the past.

“It’s been 10 years since we had six perfect weather days. The first cool day of the year was the first day of Oktoberfest. We had three great days, rain during the week, then three more perfect days,” Eichner said. “Add the highway to bring people in much smoother, it was a perfect storm. Everything was ideal.”

Suzie Zimmer, publicity and advertising chairperson, said success also had to do with a revamped campaign that reached more travelers and utilized their advertising dollars more efficiently.

“We had major coverage everywhere. We had billboards on I-75 for the first time. We changed our TV and media coverage to have a wider effect on our target market,” Zimmer said. “We went line by line to see where they should be placed.”

Zimmer also used a bi-lingual approach to get more German-speaking people there, which she said she noticed the second weekend.

“We did German ads in the German-speaking newspapers and German press releases, as well as ads from Sarasota to Naples,” Zimmer said. “We hadn’t done that before. Our previous chairperson didn’t speak German.”

The campaign paid off, with many a busload dropping people off from as far north as Sarasota.

Ultimately, the success came down to the support from those at the club who made sure everything went smoothly with all those people in attendance, as well as the community that came out for all the fun, beer and brats, though next time they may hold back on the knockwurst a little bit.

“About the only thing that went wrong is that we didn’t sell enough knockwurst. Those are little things and we make note of that. We’re happy that everyone came to our party and I hope they come again,” Eichner said.