BY IAN SHANTZ | SEPTEMBER 2022
Ask someone what they love most about Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest and you’re bound to get a variety of answers.
The answer to that question is easy for Allan Cayenne, who has been involved with the event for more than 15 years and is in his first year serving as Oktoberfest president.
“The German word is Gemütlichkeit. This feeling of warm and welcoming,” Cayenne says. “That celebration that Oktoberfest provides for people, to me, is what makes it special. It’s what I love to see. It’s what inspires me.”
With that said, ensuring every Oktoberfest visitor feels warm, welcomed and safe is the top priority for organizers.
Mark Bingeman, president of festival mainstay Bingemans Kool Haus, says Oktoberfest appeals to traditionalists and serves as an entertainment platform that also highlights the region’s culinary creativity — and included in all that it’s the “perfect platform to be a megaphone for that diversity.”
‘Festgoers’ safety will continue to be the No. 1 priority. Mask-wearing will be per current provincial regulations.
“That’s something that’s going to be up to each individual festhalle. They’re each their own individual operators so they’ll have their own policies when it comes to wearing masks,” Cayenne says. “I think a lot of them will just abide by what public health is suggesting or recommending at the time.”
Bingeman said the festival’s earlier start this year intentionally lends itself to more outdoor events. His company’s Kool Haus design has been purposely laid out with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind and will feature a larger outdoor beer garden component with open-air circulation.
“As much as we can possibly do to keep things safe, we’re certainly going to be doing,” he says.
Having been limited to virtual and scaled-down offerings for the past two years, organizers say there’s renewed excitement in the air which bodes well for attendance.
“The more people we talk to, the more excitement we’re seeing,” Cayenne says.