23 Aug 2014
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Germantown Oktoberfest 'Outgrew' Park, Moves to Clarksburg

“We outgrew the park and couldn’t find any place in Germantown that would work,” event chairwoman Susan Austin tells Patch.

Germantown Oktoberfest 'Outgrew' Park, Moves to Clarksburg

, the 30th annual Germantown Oktboberfest isn’t going to be held in Germantown this year.

Germantown Oktoberfest is set for Oct. 6 at High Point Farm in Clarksburg, miles from its former perch at Ridge Road Park in Germantown. Organizers estimate the free festival has fetched between 7,000 and 10,000 attendees.

“We outgrew the park and couldn’t find any place in Germantown that would work,” said Susan Austin, an event chairwoman.

Space, cost and logistics were driving factors for the decision to relocate. Austin said Montgomery College and the Maryland SoccerPlex were among the options the committee considered, but plans didn’t pan out at either venue.

Austin said the event costs between $25,000 and $30,000 to produce; moving the event to Clarksburg would save $10,000.

The committee did not receive a grant from the county as it had in prior years.  Also, the cost to rent the public park increased to $5,000 this year, Austin said. 

“Then you have other fees on top of that,” Austin said. “Trash removal, police, crossing guards — those things add up.”

Austin said parking-related expenses alone could account for $5,000.

The relocation has prompted at least one vendor to pull out of the festival —The Germantown Historical Society.

Organization President Susan Soderberg, who writes a monthly column for Germantown Patch, made the announcement in a letter to the editor published in The Gazette:

The Germantown Oktoberfest was created by the Germantown Alliance 30 years ago in order to foster community identity and local camaraderie. Moving it out of Germantown defeats the purpose of the festival.

When reached by Patch on Wednesday afternoon, Austin said she was unaware that the Germantown Historical Society’s plans to pull out of the festival.

Austin said the committee had considered that some people would be disappointed that Germantown Oktoberfest wasn’t going to be held in Germantown this year. She also noted that the festival committee found advertisements at least 10 years old, billing the festival as the “Upper Montgomery Oktoberfest.”

While the overall character of the event is expected to stay the same, there are some other changes to the festival — the addition of a free wine tasting and a cancelled fireworks display, which Austin attributed to budget cuts.

There are also a new set of hours: 10 a.m to 5 p.m., instead of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“If we end at 5, we don’t have to run as many lights,” Austin said.

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