In 2009 and 2010 Hinesville’s popular OktoberFest drew record crowds to the city’s downtown. City officials said the festival will not be held this year because the authentic German entertainment the event is known for could not be obtained.
“It was our intention to hold it again this year and plans were coming along nicely until our main entertainment canceled to go on tour,” Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Vicki Davis said. “The event has developed in just two short years a reputation of authenticity. The talent we have secured over the past two years traveled to Hinesville from throughout the U.S. and Europe, which is very costly on our end.”
HDDA, along with Fort Stewart’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and Zum Rosenhoff German restaurant owners David and Anka Hinze, organized and sponsored the event.
Hinze refused to elaborate on why the festival was canceled this year, except to say, “The entertainment is not the only reason for not having it.”
Davis explained the money used to pay such festival expenses as entertainment, promotion and advertising, sound, tent rental and security is received from sponsors and vendors, not event goers.
“We try to keep events in the downtown district free to the public,” she said. “Our planning is quite often limited to the ‘upfront’ money we receive from organizers and sponsors, which is the case with OktoberFest since we have to secure entertainment nearly one year in advance.”
Davis said funding festivals is harder today than it was a few years ago.
“We understand that tightening budgets often mean such expenditures as promotions and sponsorships are of the first budgets to be cut,” she said. “One thing we have come to realize, though, is that having quality community events for the whole family, particularly free or low-cost events, is extremely important to the quality of life particularly during difficult economic times.”
Davis said rather than receiving larger amounts from a few donors it is better to get less from more.
“The return on their investment is not just the exposure of the business or organization’s name, but edification of the community that is gained by each event attendee who experiences the arts, culture and a sense of community, and in turn, increases their support of local businesses.”
Rather than dwell on the cancellation, Davis promoted upcoming events; Blues & BBQ and the Beggars Night & Scarecrow Stroll.
“Blues & BBQ will be held for the ninth consecutive year on Oct. 1 from 4 to 11 p.m.,” she said. “The date has been pushed back two weeks since OktoberFest is not being held to allow for additional planning. Blues & BBQ has been the signature event of the Hinesville Area Arts Council since its inception. The arts council currently is involved in preparing for a relocation and building renovations and was afraid the event would have to be put on hold this year.”
Blue & BBQ will be in the parking lot across from the Liberty County Justice Center, off M.L. King Jr. Drive.
Beggars Night & Scarecrow Stroll will be Oct. 28. Davis said the kid-friendly costs little overall.
“Every aspect of the event is sponsored by individual businesses and organizations that pay for any costs related to the activity they sponsor such as candy stations, the outdoor movie, hayrides, pumpkin decorating, a costume contest and the creepy crawly exhibit,” she said. “That is what allows the event to continue to be successful and experience growth each year. If we could get that same kind of widespread support for all events, we would not have to make decisions to cancel or put events on hold like OktoberFest.”