Growth of German festival is phenomenal

Huge crowds help town capitalize on its heritage with annual Oktoberfest

By Ken Esten Cooke— Few towns have done as much to promote their cultural heritage as Fredericksburg. That was in evidence last weekend as huge crowds descended upon the town to take part in Oktoberfest.

Lederhosen and dirndls were everywhere as tens of thousands of people came to Marktplatz for a great time with German flair. While attendance counts are still being tallied, many old-timers say it was the largest ever.

The open-air event, blessed this year by great weather, is another advantage as visitors can stroll around Marktplatz, visit craft vendors and take part in activities with their children. People from all walks of life came from all over the state and the country to enjoy a little piece of Germany with three fun days of music, brats, beer and so much more.

The throngs of visitors also stop at other businesses, whether they are retail shops on Main Street, a grocery store or a gas station. That many people provide an economic boost to the sales tax that benefits all businesses.

Of course, there were a few complaints. Those attending needed to be prepared to walk several blocks to park anywhere near the event. During peak crowd times, seating came at a premium, though there was more than in past years. And some groused about downtown traffic during the event. The event’s growth will no doubt be on the minds of planning committees for both the festival and Marktplatz as they eye the future of this wonderful event.

Another great local flavor at this year’s Oktoberfest was locally brewed beer. Along with more than 20 German beers, the craft brewing explosion across the state also allowed another 30-plus domestic taps to flow, including Fredericksburg’s own Pedernales Brewing Company, which had its own Oktoberfest brew on tap. Those digging in to German food also had plenty of local booths to choose from, none more prevalent than Opa’s Sausage, another local company that supports and compliments the event.

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