Yes, Covington, There Will Be an Oktoberfest
Covington's Mainstrasse Village has been home to the city's largest annual festivals for decades.
But last September, poor weather and a series of other troubles faced by the Mainstrasse Village Association, doomed the long-running festivals.
The MSVA announced a few weeks later that it lost $100,000 and was filing for bankruptcy protection.
The future of the annual Maifest and Oktoberfest events appeared to be uncertain. May came and went this year without Maifest.
September, however, will have an Oktoberfest.
"I grew up going to Covington Oktoberfest. The event is so important to me and Covington in general, and we didn't want it to just die," said Jake Rouse, CEO of Braxton Brewing Company. The popular downtown Covington brewer is the driving force behind the return of Oktoberfest September 6-8.
It will be smaller than in years past, when several blocks of Sixth and Main streets were shut down in favor of rows of booths for beer, food, and other vendors, along with four stages for music, a large midway area with rides for all ages, and other German-inspired revelry.
The focus will now be on "local", in a condensed Oktoberfest that will take place primarily in Goebel Park.
Rouse said that Braxton officials met with businesses, residents, and city officials about what was good and what was not so good about traditional Oktoberfest in Covington. For years, businesses in Mainstrasse saw a dip in sales as visitors opted for street food and beer instead of indoor dining for the three-day fests.
Now the focus will be on them.
"We just want to tell the story that is everything great about the traditions of Covington but with more of a local spin," Rouse said. "We've got some great local businesses to showcase what Covington is all about."
Instead of booths selling windows or roof shingles or wind chimes, the vendors at this year's Oktoberfest will be familiar local restaurants that may add a German spin to their regular cuisine. Braxton and other local beers will be featured. There will also be a variety of live music, and opportunities for children to enjoy the weekend, too, thanks to a partnership with the Kenton County Public Library.
Rouse said that Ludwig Noll, whose family has been a part of the Mainstrasse festivals since the beginning, is also involved in helping to keep the German-ness of the event alive.
Oktoberfest will be free to attend with plenty of options to spend money on food or drinks. And yes, Rouse said, the beer steins from past Oktoberfests will be honored and filled upon request (and payment) for a cold one. He added that a new stein will also be available.
"We're bringing back a really different stein, a really unique plastic one," he said.
In addition to reviving a festival recently believed to be dead, Braxton and Oktoberfest will bring amusement to a park that has seen its fortunes improve in recent years, but still in need of some TLC.
"One thing we heard from the residents and businesses was to bring more life to the park, to spruce up the park," Rouse said.
Where: Oktoberfest will be centered around Goebel Park at Sixth and Philadelphia streets in Covington
When: Friday, September 6 (5-11 p.m.); Saturday, September 7 (noon - 11 p.m.); and Sunday, September 8 (noon to 8 p.m.)
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher