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Monday, September 21, 2020

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest continues in 2020 with a difference

 Prost Together, Apart from September 25 to October 12

                     Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is not cancelled, but it will be different.

That is the message coming loud and clear from the 52-year-old Bavarian festival. The festival will run over three-weekends from September 25 to October 12, two weeks earlier than usual, and will include a free two-day live-stream event delivering the music, dancing, food and culture that make the festival so unique, directly into viewers’ homes all across Ontario.

Official Opening Ceremonies will be live streamed from the Region of Waterloo International Airport on Friday, September 25 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Mayors from all three Cities and the Regional Chair will take part in a historic single ceremony to declare the festival open. Festival-goers can also visit one of many “Micro-FESThallen” running in local restaurants during the festival dates. They will be featuring live Oktoberfest entertainment and Bavarian-themed food specials and beer pairings. The program is designed to support local businesses impacted by COVID-19.

 On Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10, the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest LIVE event will stream Oktoberfest-themed entertainment, such as The Golden Keys and other Festhalle favourites, as well as family-friendly programming. This free event will allow viewers to celebrate the Spirit of Gem├╝tlichkeit at home while practicing physical distancing or celebrating within their bubble. Bavarian-inspired food will be available for takeout from a number of Festhallen and local restaurants. The event is proudly supported by Schneiders, a long-time festival sponsor, and is a fundraiser for the Onkel Hans Food Drive, benefitting the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

 Since the inception of the Onkel Hans Food Drive, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest has helped raise non-perishable donations and funds equivalent to 1.4 million pounds of food. “We are pushing ahead with them in mind, knowing we can work together to keep people safe and support the recovery of our local economy and tourism industry,” said Executive Director Alfred Lowrick.

 “If the past five months have shown us anything, it’s that our community continues to find innovative ways to come together safely,” said festival president Tim Beckett. “With that spirit in mind, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest was determined to move forward to find a safe way to continue the tradition. This format allows people to decide how to join the festivities safely - either in a restaurant or gathered at home - with those close to you. It’s like the Superbowl, but with really good polka music.”

 To help create an Oktoberfest-at-Home experience, a limited number of Oktoberfest-In-A-Box kits are available for purchase and will feature Oktoberfest souvenirs and products from local businesses. Special edition Oktoberfest masks and pins are also available at Oktoberfest.ca.

 This new direction is motivated in part by the important role the festival plays as an economic driver for the local economy, something that is important now more than ever.

 “We have been consulting frequently with Region of Waterloo Public Health officials. Our main priority is to ensure the health and safety of our community and our volunteers,” said Lowrick. “We also feel a sense of responsibility to the local businesses involved in creating the festival experience, and the not-for-profit groups who benefit from fundraising programs.

 “This has been a challenging year for everyone as we adjust to new norms made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward on an innovative version of K-W Oktoberfest is welcomed and uplifting news. Determination, creativity and energy are the hallmarks of the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest team so, ‘the show must go on,” said Mayor Dave Jaworsky, City of Waterloo.

 "Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is a storied tradition in our region that has been bringing our community together for more than 50 years," said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "While it will be a different experience this year, I'm happy we'll still get a chance to celebrate one of the most anticipated events of the year. While following health and safety guidelines, we can continue the Gem├╝tlichkeit spirit of this exciting tradition in our community."

 With this new direction and focus, some of the traditional festival events will be postponed until further notice, including the Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball, A Blooming Affair Fashion Show, the KWO 5K Fun Run, the Women of the Year Awards. The current Oktoberfest Ambassador, Erin Wetzel, will continue in her role into 2021.

 The Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade, which attracts over 150,000 spectators annually, will also be postponed for 2020, but the celebration will continue with a one-hour parade special on CTV, looking back on the 50-year parade history and how the festival has evolved over the years. The broadcast will air on CTV on Monday, October 12 at noon across Southwestern Ontario.

This new format for the 2020 festival is made possible in part due to funding provided by the Province of Ontario and Heritage Canada. 


From Stephen Murdoch,

Enterprise Canada PR

        Twitter: @canadianprguy