UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | February 28, 2024

Dry Oktoberfest disappointment was preventable

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Nearly everywhere in the world has spun its own version of Oktoberfest, but St. George might be the first to spin it as a No-toberfest.

For the last weekend of Oktoberfest, out-of-towners and locals alike gathered on the streets of Ancestor Square to wander their way into George Streetfest’s rumored beer garden.

The event was literally sucked dry by a last-minute change in venues, resulting in an alcohol-free Oktoberfest. Some attending named it “No-beerfest” when they learned there would only be root beer for sale.

The Facebook page for George Streetfest changed its profile picture to a graphic of two mugs giving cheers for the night of the event with full knowledge there would be no beer available, which was misleading to say the least. It should have been upfront and honest to the public. 

If organizers of the event wanted more respect from the beer-drinking crowd, they could have taken responsibility for the mishap as soon as they knew the venue wouldn’t be available instead of waiting until the night of to expose the issue. 

The community as a whole is forced to be tolerant of issues similar to this. In the future it would be wise for anyone planning an event that involves the entire city to be more open about glitches as soon as possible. 

St. George City Council member Michele Randal said in an email: “This had nothing to do with the city. This was a complete oversight by the event promoters. Unfortunately, when the organizers learned they would not be able to use Ancestor Square for the Jazz Garden because of the new sod, they were unaware the state does not allow that license to transfer to another venue.”

The Ancestor Square Council’s decisions led to a less than fulfilling attempt at Oktoberfest. German culture lacked presence at the fest, but no one would have noticed or cared had brews been present. After all, beer drinking is in the definition of Oktoberfest. I get the rules are a bit more strict with liquor licenses in Utah, but you can’t hold an Oktoberfest without beer. 

“The move to have the beer garden at another location was approved by the city council,” said Joe Bowcutt, a St. George City Council member. “However, approval was also needed from the Utah State Liquor Commission, and that approval apparently was not done in a timely manner.”

The Utah State Liquor Commission should have been more understanding of Oktoberfest and made the push to get a license more of a priority. It could and should have made an exception to its seven-day policy. 

If newly planted sod truly was the only reason the Ancestor Square Council decided to vote against a Jazz Garden at Oktoberfest, they should have planted it at a later date so it would not interfere with the event. This would have been a simple decision that requires little planning.

Perhaps the Ancestor Square Council could have also let the event organizers know before they granted permission.

It’s outrageous to let something that big go unnoticed until last minute. Fortunately for George Streetfest, St. George will still maintain some sort of nightlife with beer and wine kinks hopefully worked out in the future. 

According to The Independent, “in addition to a magnificent lineup for November’s Streetfest, the grass in the newly remodeled Ancestor Square courtyard will be ready for the Jazz Garden’s return. And there will be beer!”