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Oktoberfest rolls out the digital barrel for 50th anniversary

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Fifty years ago, there was plenty of beer and bratwurst, but no online world to speak of. Today, the food and drink remain, but now Oktoberfest has a decidedly digital footprint.

Marking its golden anniversary this year, K-W Oktoberfest has beefed up its digital Festguide to reflect the times.

“With more people accessing information online, we are pleased to share our official FestGuide in a digital version ahead of the 50th anniversary of the festival,” said Margo Jones, the president of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. “The online official FestGuide features an overview of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, highlights our full calendar of events, showcases community partners, and more.”

The guide details the goings on at the festival, which runs October 5-13.

“We’re using this as another alternative to print because we find more people are looking for information – they’re looking for it currently and instantly, and online is the way to go,” added Alfred Lowrick, executive director of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. “We look at our demographic – people from out of town don’t necessarily have access to the printed version, so we’ve found other ways of moving information to people. It’s about getting the information to the right people at the right time.”

The organization has released the guide in previous years. However, the writers added new features for 2018, such as a page flip-over. It is in-depth at 68 pages, featuring locations, maximum capacities for venues, short descriptions of the festival, a brief history of the tradition, costs, event listings, and maps. Essentially, everything one needs to know for to map out an Oktoberfest experience, which extends to the townships at locations such as Oberkrainer Haus in Breslau, operated by the Slovenian Association SAVA.

“The Oberkrainer Haus is a relatively small hall in comparison to some of the others, but specializes in authentic offerings of particular food,” said Lowrick. “They have all kinds of unique food. It has a slightly different spin on it because it’s Slovenian. We have Oktoberfest sausage, schnitzel, plus we have other things that are offered. Nice little hall and easy to get to. It’s getting close to sold out.”

Other more heavily populated venues include the Concordia Club at in Kitchener, with a total capacity of 3,950, and the OktoberfestHaus on Ardelt Place in Kitchener that can host up to 4,500 festival goers.

“We have a German beer for the first time as part of our offerings,” said Lowrick, on new additions this year. “It is right from the heart of Bavaria.”

They have also introduced new, creative fundraising efforts, including dream car lottery draw on October 13.

Many of the new features are in line with the 50th-anniversary theme.

“There was a committee that was formed, 50 projects for 50 years. We have a 50th-anniversary book that we published, a special stamp, a 50th-anniversary coin, and themed pin – you get the idea,” said Lowrick with a laugh. “We have social media that has really dialed up. A special Kitchener Rangers jersey is being developed, and the Rangers will be wearing that next Friday night. Those jerseys will be auctioned off after the game,” he added of the partnership with the hockey club.

Hosted in the twin cities because of its strong German heritage, the KW Oktoberfest is a non-profit organization that aims to celebrate German culture. The nine-day festival runs every year with the help of eight full-time staff, 450 volunteers and 1,300 service club volunteers. Click here for more information.

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