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Don't grab your lederhosen just yet — Gainesville's Oktoberfest has been postponed
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Update Sept. 28: The Arts Council's inaugural Oktoberfest has been rescheduled for 3-11 p.m. Oct. 14 owing to concerns of inclement weather from Hurricane Ian.


Prost! For the first time, The Arts Council is pouring the heart of Bavaria into downtown Gainesville.

The inaugural Oktoberfest celebration is slated for 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the grounds of The Arts Council, and is a partnership between the organization and Tap It.

Tap It has been the host site for Oktoberfest in years past as well as its own Brew Fest, but lacked adequate space to make it a large-scale event, according to owner Jim Tortorelli. With a larger venue, the event has room to grow, he said, offering better music and more beer to choose from.

Oktoberfest

When: 3-11 p.m. Oct. 14

Where: The Arts Council, 331 Spring St. SW, Gainesville

How much: Free admission; $25 for five beer tickets

More info: theartscouncil.net/events/oktoberfest

Guests can expect live music throughout the festivities, including performances by Alepnfest Musiker, King Daddy Polecats, Let There Be Rock Schools and the Jonathan Moody Band.

“We’re hoping to attract a broader audience than we traditionally have drawn in the past,” said Pamela Williams-Lime, executive director of The Arts Council. “We have never used the facility for an event like this. It’s perfect in being able to make the whole community aware that this is a place that everybody can gather and participate.”

About two dozen Georgia breweries are set to fill steins all day long, Tap It manager and events coordinator Megs LaCroce said, including Liquid Nation Brewing, Tantrum Brewing Co., Creature Comforts Brewing Co. and Gate City Brewing Co.

“Basically any of the big names within an hour, hour and a half are going to be here,” she said.

Among the 50-60 libations on tap, guests will find German styles as well as more standard brews.

“Not everybody wants to drink German beer all day, but we’re definitely going to have plenty of German beers available,” LaCroce said.

LaCroce added measures will be implemented to ensure responsible consumption.

For food, Around the Block Cheesesteak, Baltimore Crab Cake Company, Branch House Tavern, Carniceria Tapatia, Jerk Brothers, The Inked Pig, Pico’s Hot Dogs and Southern Baked Pie Co. will be on site.

Admission is free, but 21-and-older attendees who plan to enjoy the festivities to their fullest can purchase a wristband for $3, which will allow them to get a set of five tasting tickets for $25. The set includes five 4-ounce pours and a beer mug.

Tickets for 12-ounce pours will also be available for $6 each.

“It’s kind of like how we used to do Brew Fest: You get a little sample, you find something you like, then you get a pint or two,” Tortorelli said. “We want people to sample different beers. A lot of people don’t know what a marzen is, or a Czech Pilsner or German Pilsner versus a local Pilsner. We want people to experience that and then off you go afterward, buy whatever pints you want. If you want to buy Tropicalia, go buy Tropicalia. We’ll have that, too.”

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Tap It and The Arts Council have partnered to host Oktoberfest in downtown Gainesville. Photo courtesy Jim Tortorelli

While future Oktoberfests may have an entry fee, eliminating one from the inaugural celebration is an effort to include families and younger people.

“We didn’t want to limit our audience to just a drinking audience,” Williams-Lime said.

The event will also feature kids activities and a community art project: A large papier-mache scarecrow and pumpkins, which will join Main Street Gainesville’s “squarecrow” exhibit on the downtown square this October.

And, true to Oktoberfest tradition, keg tossing will be part of the festivities as well.

According to Tortorelli, many visitors discover Gainesville by way of Atlanta and beyond. For those who pass through on their way to Helen’s monthlong Oktoberfest, he anticipates they’ll find Oktoberfest at The Arts Council to be a rival that’s closer to home, and not just because of downtown Gainesville’s free parking.

“We want Atlanta to start realizing this is the hub before you get up to the rest of North Georgia,” Tortorelli said. “Hey, Atlanta, instead of going all the way up to Helen, you can stop about halfway and have just as great a festival, if not better. This is going to be the biggest event ever on these grounds, I think.”

While joining forces with Tap It to host Oktoberfest is a first for The Arts Council, Williams-Lime said it’s far from the organization’s last event to host with a community partner. 

A number of local organizations have faced challenges in getting their events back on the calendar post-pandemic, she said, and The Arts Council is partnering to help make them happen.

“Being in the location that we are, we really need to be a hub for community events,” Williams-Lime said. “It’s our goal to make sure there’s something that happens here every year that appeals to every different interest in the community.”