Friday, September 06, 2002

MainStrasse party begins today


At least 150,000 likely to show for Oktoberfest

By Dave Niinemets
Enquirer contributor

        COVINGTON — Roll out the barrels. For the 24th straight year, MainStrasse Village will host its annual Oktoberfest celebration, starting today at 5 p.m.

        The three-day festival of German traditions kicked off Thursday with a ceremonial tapping of the keg by Lt. Gov. Steve Henry and will wrap up Sunday night.

[photo] Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry toasts Mick Noll of Strudel Haus during the kick-off luncheon.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        “We're really hoping it's the usual turnout,” said MainStrasse administrative coordinator Donna Kremer. “We estimate by the police count it will be between 150,000-175,000 people. That's typical as long as we don't have a rained-out day like Maifest had.”

        Visitors can expect the usual attractions:

        • German music and dancing.

        • Food from more than 20 different restaurants.

        • Midway rides and games, crafts and beer.

        New this year will be food from German Cuisine and Waffle World and added German dancing under the Goebel Park tent.

IF YOU GO
   What: MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest.
   When: 5-11 p.m. today; noon-11 p.m. Saturday; and noon-11 Sunday. Where: MainStrasse Village on Sixth Street in Covington
   Admission: All-you-can-ride tickets for midway are $10 for Saturday and Sunday
   Parking: Free on Fifth Street. Free shuttles run from the Westin Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, the lot across from Jillian's, the city lot at Seventh and Scott Streets, the city lot at Riverboat Row, the IRS lot in Covington and Fifth Third Bank on Dixie Highway in Fort Wright.

OTHER CELEBRATIONS
These local Oktoberfest events are popular among both German-Americans and fun-lovers in general:
   Aug. 23-25: Germania Society's Germania Oktoberfest at Germania Park, Cincinnati.
   Aug. 31-Sept.1: Deutscher Hausverein Oktoberfest, Hamilton.
   Sept. 6-8: MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest, Covington. Information: www.mainstrasse.org.
   Sept. 21-22: Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, downtown Cincinnati. Information: www.oktoberfest-zinzinnati.com.
   Oct. 4-6: Schwaben Oktoberfest, Donauschwaben Park, Colerain Township. Info: www.donauschwaben.com.
        With such a large turnout, MainStrasse and the city must contend with the usual headaches, namely parking and crowd control.

        To alleviate parking demands, free shuttles will be available.

        As for crowd control, the Covington Police Department will bulk up manpower for the event. Lt. Col. George Russell said police from outside departments will be brought in but would not reveal the number of police for security reasons. Mr. Russell expects the event to run smoothly.

        “If you're coming down here to enjoy yourself, it's a great place to come,” Col. Russell said. “If you're coming down here for anything else, my advice is: Stay away.”

        The police will be headquartered outside of the MainStrasse Village offices. Anyone needing police assistance at the event can call (859) 491-0458.

        A contributing factor to the number of people and cars this year may be the Cincinnati Bengals. With the season opener kicking off across the river on Sunday, Ms. Kremer thinks more people may visit.

        “People who go to the Bengals' games always park in Covington. So, hopefully, if they know about Oktoberfest, either they'll be ready to celebrate after the game or they'll be ready to drown their sorrows and know to come here,” she said.

        If Bengals fans wind up enjoying the festival, they won't be the only ones.

        The event has been named one of the Top 10 festivals by the Kentucky Tourism Council and one of the Top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.

        “It's very, very satisfying to know that people not just in Covington but people in the state and the whole Southeast region of the country recognize how much fun they have by attending one of our events,” said Ms. Kremer.

        What those groups have learned about Oktoberfest, the city of Covington has known for a long time. City Commissioner Jerry Bamberger said the event, along with Maifest, has been a huge boost to the city and its businesses over the years. He said many people come back after the festival because they like the area so much.

        “It's been a win-win for the city and for MainStrasse,” said Mr. Bamberger.

       



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