GLENVILLE — There will be no Oktoberfest drawing thousands of revelers to the town, and no series of outdoor concerts in Indian Meadows Park next month.
Town officials announced Friday that both the popular Oktoberfest celebration in late September and the Thursdays in the Park concert series in August are being canceled because of the ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and the virus’ possible spread through crowds.
“This year, we just felt it was too dangerous to hold these popular events,” said Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle. “We know many people will be disappointed, but with the popularity of both events growing each year, we just didn’t see a responsible way to hold these events in the tradition that we’re accustomed, and still ensure everyone’s safety.”
The town has already canceled many of the events it planned for this year’s town bicentennial because of the pandemic. While health experts believe the risk of the virus spreading outdoors is less than when people gather indoors, there have been clusters in some communities linked to outdoor gatherings where people don’t or can’t maintain social distancing.
Oktoberfest, in particular, was known for attracting a rollicking crowd that filled the acreage of Maalwyck Park each year. Last year’s event was estimated to have attracted 10,000 people. It has been moved because of weather, but never been canceled before.
Dave Hennel, co-chair of Oktoberfest since it started in 2010, said the event committee was “saddened” to have to make the decision.
“We encourage everyone to gather (safely) at your ‘haus’ and say ‘prost’ and toast the Glenville Oktoberfest and look forward to our return on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021,” he said, using the German equivalent of “house” and “cheers,” respectively.
Koetzle indicated the town is working on plans for a decentralized Oktoberfest celebration that will highlight local small businesses — a business category the town has been trying to support as they have suffered through pandemic-related shutdowns and declines in consumer spending.
“As we continue to celebrate our town’s 200th birthday, this has been a year of some disappointment, but I know that we will come out of this a stronger town, a stronger community and more united than ever,” Koetzle said.