The Cullman Times
Cullman’s Oktoberfest reached new heights last year in attendance and excitement.
Steeped in rich German heritage, Oktoberfest has long been a natural fit for Cullman. Founded in 1982, the first festival was a two-day affair that drew about 150 attendees. Swinging forward 30 years later, Cullman saw more than 25,000 people enjoy the event during a week-long effort.
For its rise to the status of a major festival, North Alabama Mountain Lakes Association has given the local Oktoberfest the coveted Peak Award for outstanding festival in Alabama.
Adding alcohol sales to the event for the first time is what local festival organizers say boosted attendance. Indeed, the downtown was crowded many days and nights during the festival as a variety of entertainment and food was available.
Looking ahead to next month and the years ahead, festival officials and the City of Cullman have an opportunity to build a tremendous regional event with Oktoberfest. The festival board was seeking a much larger budget for this year’s event from the local government, but the requested amount was trimmed down. Still, more funding was made available for this year.
The festival promises to be as good as last year’s turning point event, but future efforts will need additional promotions, entertainment and cultural activities to continue the upward trend.
Oktoberfest can be especially beneficial for downtown merchants, restaurants and hotels if the festival board continues to add new, exciting offerings for visitors.
The festival’s intent is to offer a wide range of entertainment and activities that appeal to both children and adults while honoring the heritage that is found in Cullman. Maintaining that balance may be challenging at times, but the cultural aspects of the festival should always take center stage.
Winning the top ranking from North Alabama Mountain Lakes is a tremendous honor and a challenge to do even more to make Oktoberfest successful. The opportunities are plentiful to build a valuable event that brings visitors in from miles away to enjoy the culture and businesses of the Cullman area.