BY LEAH MORROW
It’s beer, bratwurst and Bavarian culture time as Kitchener-Waterloo gets ready to celebrate its 47th annual Oktoberfest. The official opening ceremonies will be held Oct. 9 at 11:15 a.m. outside Kitchener Civic Square. The event will be hosted by none other than Onkel Hans, Miss Oktoberfest and the newly inaugurated president of K-W Oktoberfest Inc., Alfred Lorwick.
Oktoberfest embodies and celebrates Kitchener-Waterloo’s German roots and the spirit of gemutlichkeit, which means warmth, friendship and good cheer. The festival attracts approximately 700,000 people each year, is home to 19 festhallen venues and features 50 different events to attend.
According to Dave MacNeil, executive director of K-W Oktoberfest Inc., ticket sales have been brisk this year, with 1,000 more sold than at this time last year. MacNeil urges students to get their tickets soon. “Don’t sit back, go out and get a ticket,” said MacNeil. “Especially if you have a favourite event or fest hall that you want to attend.”
The Concordia Club’s ticket sales have also been through the roof this year.
“All weekend nights are sold out,” said Ruth Rajna, general manager of the Concordia Club. “They have been since May.”
Tickets range from $13.27 for a one-night pass at Cambridge’s Bavaria Haus to $99 for the Bingemans Wunderbar Pass, which guarantees admittance to any night that the Kool Haus is open.
Oktoberfest will also have many exciting events going on downtown. One is the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour, which is kicking off its second year as a part of Oktoberfest from Oct. 9-11. The three-day festival offers free outdoor hockey activities for all ages, and ends on Sunday, Oct. 11 with an outdoor viewing party of an NHL game hosted live by CBC’s Ron MacLean.
The OktoberFEAST Food Truck Event will take place from Oct. 9-11 featuring some of the region’s favourite food truck vendors. If that doesn’t satisfy the taste buds there are 29 restaurants participating in Oktoberlicious, the festival’s newest addition to the Taste of Oktoberfest series.
“Restaurants will be creating different spins on Bavarian food,” said MacNeil. “We encouraged them to create at least one specifically Oktoberfest-themed item.”
There are many things to do and see at Oktoberfest. These include the 5k Fun Run that raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region, the Tour de Hans that offers a 100k or a 50k route, and, of course, the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade.
This year the parade will follow a newly revised route, beginning in downtown Kitchener at the intersection of King and Cedar streets on Monday, Oct. 12 at 8:45 a.m.
The official keg tapping will take place Friday, Oct. 16 at 11:30 a.m. outside of Kitchener Civic Square. There will be free transit both weekends of the festival to make sure everyone has a safe and fun time.
“We urge people to take the bus on us,” said MacNeil.
For more information go to www.oktoberfest.ca