'It's completely different': KW Oktoberfest returns with new pandemic restrictions
Waterloo Region’s big Bavarian festival officially kicked off Friday with new COVID-19 restrictions at the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest this year.
Bingemans sold out it’s Koolhaus Biergarten on Friday, welcoming 750 people to an outside patio. Patrons were required to wear a mask, unless eating or drinking at one of the tables. As well, everyone was reauired to show proof of vaccination to get in.
“We haven’t gone to that extent, especially with the first night, we want to make sure everybody feels comfortable,” Mark Bingeman, president of Bingemans said.
Those who attended had no issue following the rules.
“It’s so great being able to do this again after a year of small scale stuff. i was just saying on the way here that i can’t wait to be able to get up and chat with people and dance,” Erin Wetzel, a patron and Miss Oktoberfest 2019 said.
“Feels good to be at an event with people again, there’s a good energy here,” Brady Schmidt, a patron said.
“It’s completely different, but it’s fun, and like i said it’s beautiful weather, so why not have a party,” Denise Coleman, a patron said.
The Bavarian festival is in its 53rd year.
The festivities kicked off with an opening ceremony Friday afternoon with a crowd of under 100 people. The ceremony showcased both in-person and online events happening over the next three weekends of the festival, including live performances at local fest halls and 22 restaurants across the region.
While the Alpine Club won't be hosting patrons in person because of the pandemic, curbside pickup is still an option.
"We have a traditional Bavarian and Austrian beer that you can order with your food," said club president Dietmar Biselli.
The Crazy Canuck in Kitchener will be hosting an Oktoberfest event net Friday, capping off the night with Rusty Nail Comedy.
"Have lots of fun, just remember what Oktoberfest is all about, fun and community," said Liam Cameron, partner at The Crazy Canuck, adding the restaurant will only allow 40 patrons inside to meet physical distancing requirements.
For those that can’t make it to an event, the new Wunderwagen is driving through the community to spread the festivity of the event.
Like last year, the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day parade will be transformed into a one hour tv special, which will be shown on CTV News Kitchener on October 11.