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Cape’s Oktoberfest postponed

By Staff | Jun 25, 2020

Another of the largest events in Southwest Florida that calls Cape Coral home has been postponed.

Oktoberfest, put on each year by the German American Social Club of Cape Coral, has been pushed to early next year, potentially, due to concerns over COVID-19.

GASC Board of Directors hope this event can come back safely in the first quarter of next year, according to their website.

“This was not an easy decisions and our Board wrestled with it, but ultimately, in these uncertain times, the health and safety of our members and the community weigh more heavily,” said GASC President Stephen Bauer, in a statement. “We are carefully following the guidance from our government officials in our decision-making going forward. We are really looking forward to inviting our community back for some schunkeling, chicken dances, and to enjoy a brat and a beer with us, but until then, we ask that everyone stay safe.”

The event has been a staple for 34 years in the city, drawing tens of thousands from around the state and around the world to the Bavarian Garden grounds, where beer is plentiful and music rings out over three days of jubilation, creating an authentic German Oktoberfest atmosphere.

They also invite an authentic band from Germany each year, which would be virtually impossible due to restrictions on travel in place due to coronavirus.

A statement on the GASC website reads, “Our annual Oktoberfest has been postponed this year as concerns about the spread of coronavirus continues and in accordance with the large gathering directive from Governor DeSantis. In these uncertain times, the health and safety of our members and community weigh heavily in all decisions made and we are hopefully to safely bring this event back in the first quarter of next year.”

Officials at the GASC said more information would be available on the event in the coming days.

Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello weighed in on the club’s decision, calling it the right one.

“Oktoberfest is a premier event in our city. However, based on the current CDC guidelines and health environment, I support all organizations and businesses taking steps to keep citizens safe,” Coviello said. “Oktoberfest draws participants from all over the world. The decision made by our community partner the German American Club to postpone this marquee event is in the best interest of our city.”

Oktoberfest is just one of a slew of events that have been cancelled in recent weeks due to coronavirus concerns.

The South Cape Hospitality & Entertainment Association on Wednesday cancelled its annual Red, White & Brew event that was set for downtown Cape Coral this weekend.

“Due to rising concerns over a growing number of new coronavirus cases, SCHEA has decided to cancel the Red, White & Brew Pub Crawl,” a release from the organization states. “We encourage people to continue supporting local establishments, as they are able. Our decision was made to simplify the process of the locations managing requirements. All ticket holders will receive a full refund within the next two days.”

In late May, the city decided to move its Red, White & BOOM! 4th of July celebration to Labor Day due to coronavirus concerns. The fireworks extravaganza held each year also draws tens of thousands from around Southwest Florida.

“I think it’s prudent we move it because it’s such a large gathering. Red, White & BOOM brings in thousands of people,” Coviello said in a prior interview. “We will hopefully be on the backside of COVID-19, so we just didn’t want to bring so many people in such close proximity.”

The event may have a different name, and it may be at a different time of the year, but organizers say they will try to make it an ode to the city’s history as part of the 50-year celebration.

Coviello said it should be a nice alternative, as it also will serve as a rededication to the monument at the foot of Cape Coral Parkway, which is being refurbished. “Rice” is also expected to headline the new event, with a retro ’70s theme being considered as well.

“Whether it brings in people from the outside who typically come to this event remains to be seen,”Coviello said. “It’s unfortunate we had to cancel other events, but it had to be done, and we should be in good shape come Sept. 5.”

Gloria Tate, president of the Cape Coral Historical Society, said she is thrilled the event’s move will showcase the city’s anniversary.

“I’m disappointed about losing Red, White & BOOM, but I understand them moving the event. It will be great to showcase the history of our city on Cape Coral Parkway,” Tate said in an earlier interview. “There are a lot of positives to moving it and families will get to celebrate the Fourth with their families.”

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj