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KW Oktoberfest looking to rejuvenate itself as attendance shrinks
KITCHENER – The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is well underway, but a push is on to give the Bavarian festival a reset.
Fewer fest halls have been participating in recent years, prompting a review to explore what the festival is getting right.
The major focus is to set the festival up for the future: there have been questions about how to keep it relevant and maintain strong community ties.
"We needed to look at a reset in terms of community engagement," explains KW Oktoberfest president Tim Beckett.
And other major venues agree.
"The last couple of years, with dwindling amounts of festhallen, I would say yes, we have to reset," says Rob Kerr, Concordia Club president.
Those changes began this year, with venues featuring German beers for the first time.
There was also a new downtown Kitchener location for the opening ceremony.
"It allowed for a beer garden there so when we were tapping a keg, people could enjoy a beverage at that time," Beckett says. "Where, at City Hall, that didn't happen."
The review will look at the financial and operation structure of KW Octoberfest Inc., which currently includes nine fest halls.
That's fewer than in years past: in 2017, Bingemans made the tough decision to part ways, allowing them to expand and offer more giveaways and beer selection.
After the review is complete -- a report will be made to the board of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest.
That will be used to develop a plan on what to do next to reset the Bavarian festival.