Addison recently held their annual Oktoberfest from 09/16 through 09/19. As Covid is still a serious concern, the event was presented as being socially distanced and safe.
But how was the actual experience?
What is the Addison Oktoberfest?
The Addison Oktoberfest is a celebration of all things german: food, music, games, and of course beer.
Why is the "Oktoberfest" in September? Well, this is actually tradition, and not just for Addison. While the very first Oktoberfest was in the month of October, as the duration of the event grew longer each year, it morphed into taking place more in September because of the better weather.
The Addison Oktoberfest is sponsored by Paulaner. They craft a variety of German-style beers including pilsners, hefeweizen, marzen, festbier, etc. There was even a grapefruit Radler featured at this year's Oktoberfest. And for the non-beer drinkers, wine is available.
In addition to the beer, the Oktoberfest hosts various food vendors, with a variety of sausages, spaetzle, pretzels, and even strudel. There are also some traditional fair favorites offered like sausage on a stick, funnel cakes, turkey leg, corn dogs, etc.
The entertainment is also appropriately themed, with tuba players, polka bands, and classic Oktoberfest games including stein hoisting and stein carrying relays. They even feature pint-sized versions of these games for kids 12 and under.
And there are booths set up throughout the event area with a variety of goods for sale ranging from salsa and jerky to fine art and clothing. Stopping by the booth selling chicken hats is a must.
A comparison: 2019 Oktoberfest vs. 2021 Oktoberfest
In 2019, tickets could be purchased online, but there were a lot of tickets that were sold the day of the event. To my knowledge, there was no real limit on the number of tickets to be sold.
For 2021, the availability of tickets in person on Friday and Saturday was limited. This year, with the majority of tickets being sold online before the event, the check-in process was quicker.
This year, while there was still a line for many of the food vendors as in previous years, some of the vendors did have a pre-order option that allowed you to purchase from your mobile device and pick up the food when it was ready.
The event staff were not refilling steins. This was not a new change to 2021; this same policy was in place in 2019.
At the 2019 Oktoberfest, you would have been hard-pressed to find an empty seat. The only seating available was in the outdoor Biergarten, in the enclosed partyhalle, and in the enclosed kleinhalle. All of this seating was at long picnic-type tables. The only other seating available was of the butt-on-grass type.
Availability of seating for the 2021 Oktoberfest was probably the biggest change. While the traditional long picnic-style tables were still featured, there were also numerous 4 seat tables scattered throughout the venue. You could find them near the food vendors, in the Klienhall, and in front of the outdoor TV screen they erected to show football. The partyhalle was changed to an open-air venue and you could even pre-reserve the tables.
There were no real changes in the availability of restrooms between 2019 and 2021. The only semi-noticeable change was the ready availability of hand sanitizer at the portapotties.
In 2019, I don't recall noticing anyone clean anything. Perhaps I just wasn't paying attention.
For the 2021 Oktoberfest, there wasn't really a marked increase in cleaning. All of the outdoor tables were a clean-it-yourself kind of deal. But staff were routinely wiping down the tables in the partyhalle and kleinhalle. While I did not witness anyone cleaning the restrooms, but that doesn't mean they weren't doing it.
Obviously in 2019, seeing someone wear a mask was a rarity.
At the 2021 Addison Oktoberfest, all of the staff were wearing masks. The patrons, not so much. While there was a scattering of mask-wearing at the check-in line, once inside the event area, it was rare to see a guest wearing a mask. Between the event being outdoors and the impracticality of wearing a mask while eating and drinking, most patrons seemed to forgo masks completely.
In 2019 the Addison Oktoberfest was packed. The lines at each of the food vendors were long and only got longer as the night progressed. Finding a seat was nearly impossible. And the fair-like area they had set up for the kids was busy.
In 2021, as the majority of the tickets were sold online, and in-person tickets were very limited, the attendance was much diminished. There were still plenty of people there, but the event was not as nearly as packed as I remember it from 2019.
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