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In other areas of the country people might still be mourning the end of summer but that’s not case for those of us who live in the Waterloo region because the end of summer signals that one of the biggest and best of the many festivals and events staged here is just a few weeks away; the Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest.
Why is that such a big deal? Well, while other cities and towns may also host Oktoberfest events the one held right here in the Waterloo Region is the biggest Bavarian culture festival outside of Germany, with the parade held on Thanksgiving Day being televised nationally. For those who might not be familiar with it – or never quite realized how big it really was – have a quick look at these rather impressive stats:
1. Length of festival: 9 days
2. Visitors: over 750,000
3. Estimated economic activity generated by Oktoberfest: $21 million
4. Money collected by non-profit organizations during Oktoberfest: $1.5 million
5. Number of non-profit organizations that benefit from Oktoberfest: 50
6. Number of volunteers: 1,780
7. Estimated number of spectators on the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade route: 150,000
8. TV viewers nationwide who tune to watch the Oktoberfest parade: 1.8 million
9. Places to sit (in the beer halls): 18,870
10. Number of pretzels consumed: 25,000
11. Number of sausages consumed: 51,750
12. Number of official keg tappings: 40
13. Price of a 12 oz. beer: $4.75 – $5.75
14. Number of free rides given away by Grand River Transit: 14,000 – 18,000
See what I mean? This thing is big! It’s also a grand tradition – this will mark the 46th year the festival has been staged – that people from across Ontario (and from even further afield) have come to know and love and one of the many things that makes the Waterloo Region so special.
What’s going on this year? More than ever in fact. Here’s just a brief look:
Food and Drink
There will be 19 different ‘Festhallen’ operating throughout the nine day extravaganza, each offering their take on the best in Bavarian beer, food and cultural entertainment. In addition to those delicious daily offerings this year the OktoberFEAST food truck event is returning for a fourth year showcasing some of the best street food you’ll taste anywhere and all at very reasonable prices.
Oktoberfest offers a number of competitive opportunities and there’s something for almost everyone! There’s the Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball and the K-W Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year 2015 Presentation to showcase and celebrate the best and brightest of the female population of the region, the Oktoberfest Golf Experience, a sanctioned Pro-Am Golf Classic at Whistle Bear Golf Club and the Tour de Hans cycling races for the athletes among us and the Treasure Hunt – which offers a $3,000 prize to the winner – is lots of fun for everyone.
Throughout the festival the Festhallen will buzz with singing, dancing and even drama and comedy Bavarian style and there really is something for everyone to enjoy. In addition there will be a Volksfest, which celebrates the best in German auto engineering, Beer – The Exhibit, which focuses on the 175 year old tradition of beer brewing in the Waterloo Region and Canada in general (and features lots of tasting opportunities) and much, much more, including the big Thanksgiving Parade which is a wonderful and exciting spectacle in its own right! You can get up to date with all of the crucial times, dates and locations at the festival’s official website here.
One of the very best things about the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is the fact that no matter where you are from, whether you live in the region or not, or how old you are everyone makes you feel welcome and there’s a real sense of community wherever you go. I know I’ll be out and about a lot during the festival and I hope many of you will as well (and I can say ‘hi’) Bring your way – out of town friends and relatives along too as there may be no better time to showcase to them just what a great place the Waterloo Region is to live, work and play in!