Oktoberfest 2013 held its first function at River Parks Wednesday evening. Despite possible drama surrounding beer containers and volunteer opportunities, organizers are expecting large crowds this weekend.
"It's time to go. We are so ready," said River Parks spokesperson Tonja Carrigg. She said organizers are expecting about 65,000 attendees between Corporate Night Wednesday and the festival's close Sunday. That's about 5,000 more than normal. Carrigg partially attributed that to the nice weather Tulsa is expecting.
However, Oktoberfest has drawn extra attention this year.
Dozens of long-time volunteers chose not participate in planning efforts, saying River Parks took too much control away from them. River Parks said it has helped handle the event for the past three years, because the volunteer-run event had accumulated debt in 2010. Carrigg said many long-time volunteers elected to continue with the event.
Another controversy stemmed from the decision to no longer offer 64 oz. pitchers for beer. Instead, Oktoberfest is offering an acrylic $4 masskrug. It contains roughly half the alcohol and is roughly half the price.
"We are moving every element of the festival to be as authentic as possible to the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany," Carrigg said. River Parks management had previously told Channel 8 the pitchers sometimes broke.
Some Tulsans have launched a Facebook page in protest of the decision to no longer offer pitchers.
Tulsa resident Nancy Young attended Oktoberfest about ten years ago. She said people's reaction to the change might be a bit "dramatic." She said she always enjoyed the event.
Carrigg said this year's festival offers more activities for children, including arts and crafts. She said there is a lot of new entertainment this year, as well.
River Parks is still looking for more volunteers. It has about three quarters of the 2,000 it needs. You may visit Oktoberfest's volunteer page for more information.
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