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August 12, 2012

Oktoberfest 2012: Beer sales planned for Festhalle

Current plan calls for 2 biergartens

CULLMAN — Beer sales are coming to Festhalle Market Platz.

Beginning with this year’s Cullman Oktoberfest, the annual German heritage festival will start looking a lot more like comparable events around the globe — beer will be available at the main event space, and organizers are planning two expanded biergartens this time around.

Though Oktoberfest events have typically featured alcohol sales, Cullman’s status as a “dry” city made the local event one of the few in the nation without alcohol sales.

After legal sales were approved in 2010, Oktoberfest organizers piloted a privately-run biergarten with Smith Farms last year, which proved a hit with attendees.

This year, they’re going bigger.

In addition to a tent managed by Smith Farms owner Rodger Turner, the Oktoberfest board will also have a biergarten stationed between Turner’s event at the Rotunda, and the Festhalle Market Platz, home to most festival events and entertainment.

The board’s biergarten will feed into the south end of Festhalle, giving access to the traditional German entertainment typically hosted at the covered structure. The official beer? Sam Adams’ Oktoberfest brew.

To create more space for those who choose to drink, both biergartens will be connected, which will allow patrons to move freely between the two — and to the south end of Festhalle — with alcoholic beverages. Areas offering beer sales have to technically be “enclosed” to abide by the city’s alcohol use ordinance.

Oktoberfest board member Ernest Hauk said the decision was made based on overwhelming feedback from attendees last year.

“There were many, many comments last year, saying whether you drink or not, it’s a shame you have to have such segregated areas,” he said. “By doing this, we still leave an area of Festhalle for those who, for whatever reason, are opposed to it. But, for those not opposed they can still be under the Festhalle and enjoy the German aspects of Oktoberfest.”

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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