POSTED ON OCTOBER 20, 2010:
Oktoberfest gears up for another year with some new awards under its belt
Tulsa's 32nd Oktoberfest commences Oct. 21, allowing festival-goers to consume and indulge at this nationally celebrated German event while benefiting Tulsa RiverParks.
Tulsa's own Oktoberfest has built a distinguished reputation that positions it with other leading celebrations in the country. Amber Hinkle, executive director of Oktoberfest, marks her second year at the festival.
"We are (ranked in the) top ten in North America in Oktoberfests by USA Today," Hinkle said. "I believe in Maxim magazine, we were number two. We were rated in People magazine last year as one of the top fall festivals by Farmer's Travel."
This notoriety is expected to increase the already large expected crowd size of 65,000 throughout the four days of festivities.
This honorable distinction has spread not only within North America but also throughout the world.
"Anytime anyone in Germany hears that there's an opportunity to play at the Tulsa Oktoberfest, they're literally fighting to get over here," Hinkle said. "We are well known around the world for what we do here in Tulsa."
As October rolls around, Tulsans are eager to embrace the German culture Oktoberfest celebrates, as well as engage in the superior food and drink selection. Oktoberfest offers more than 25 beer selections, most of which are true to the festival in their German origins.
"Our purpose is to promote German culture and heritage and we've never gotten away from that," Hinkle said. This year, Oktoberfest is offering a Wunderbar Pass for the first time. With this all access permit, guests are given an acrylic stein, free admission, free shuttle rides and one pint of beer each day of the festival for $30. Always promoting safety, Oktoberfest wants to ensure that guests can enjoy the vendors without endangering their safety or the safety of others through their Alert Cab. Budweiser sponsors this free program, similar to Tipsy Tow, that will take guests anywhere in the Tulsa metro if they are unable to drive because of excess alcohol consumption.
Oktoberfest is also known for a variety of authentic German cuisine.
"We still have very authentic people here cooking your food," Hinkle said. "Any food you have that's German food, is actually cooked by Germans." Oktoberfest will offer concessions from more than 10 vendors that offer a variety of specialty German foods fit to please the taste buds of anyone who visits Oktoberfest.
For younger attendees, Oktoberfest offers a special focus on children by offering them a tent of their own. Arts and crafts, a Wii station, magic tricks and puppet shows will allow children to participate in a hands-on environment, suitable for kids of all ages.
"I have young children myself, so it's really important to me, especially, to make sure that we had a tent full of fun things for the kids," Hinkle said.
Over the years, Oktoberfest has offered fun entertainment for Tulsans, yet they also contribute immensely to city efforts.
"We give back a portion of our proceeds every year to RiverParks," Hinkle said. "To date, we have given more than $900,000 to RiverParks, which goes to refurbishing the parks. Even if it's sprinkler systems, something as simple as that, maybe the public doesn't really see on a daily basis but helps maintain the beauty of the RiverParks System."
The Oktoberfest team is proud of their partnership with RiverParks, as they make necessary resources available for the city, even during sensitive financial periods.
Oktoberfest remains an expansive effort throughout its 32 years and it continues to create opportunities for the community while making the event as affordable as possible.
"We understand that sometimes going to a festival is a little bit more expensive than just your typical day out on a Saturday, but we have a few costs to cover, but other than that we want people to come out and have a good time, so in order to do that we are very conscientious about what our pricing is," Hinkle said.
Those at Oktoberfest understand the financial burden individuals endure during this season following the fair, yet they want Tulsans to be able to participate in the festivities. As they monitor their finances, Oktoberfest also seeks to enlarge their efforts. "We are always looking for ways to expand," Hinkle said. "Size-wise is a little difficult. We've pretty much filled our spot where we are now. We're always looking for ways to provide more entertainment during the day and get more people in here."
Oktoberfest will be held Oct. 21-24 at 2100 S. Jackson. Admission is $6 and free for children under 12. Unlimited ride passes are $15 and shuttle rates are $4. Shuttle locations and festival hours can be viewed at Oktoberfest's website, tulsaoktoberfest.org. For more information, call (918) 744-9700.
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