Oaktoberfest attendance doubles projections
Mike Strode and Stacey Patrice dance during Oaktoberfest in downtown Oak Park Saturda. | J.Geil~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:07PM
OAK PARK — Next year’s Oaktoberfest will cover an even wider area as the event continues to grow in popularity.
Marion Street will be used for more events to better accommodate the increasing numbers at the event, Downtown Oak Park Marketing Director Shanon Williams said. She noted Marion Street was only really used for the kids’ events on Saturday this year. That will change for next year.
Williams said the success of this past weekend’s Oaktoberfest requires some reconfiguration.
“We’re looking to rework the event a little,” Williams said Monday. “The crowd has grown.”
Williams said the past weekend’s flawless weather helped nearly double projected numbers. Event organizers were predicting 2,100 beer mugs to be sold, and more than 4,000 mugs were actually purchased. That comes on the heels of a surge in mug sales from 1,400 in 2010 to 2,000 last year.
Williams noted Oaktoberfest has continued to be bumped up on the calendar the last couple of years, but expected the event will be moved back to the third weekend of September for 2013. The festival’s 25th anniversary is pegged for Sept. 20-21, 2013.
Along with the weather, a strong musical line-up – including two acts from New Orleans, Amanda Shaw and Bonerama – boosted the event, which has become more upscale in the past few years, Williams said.
“We started noticing an increase five years ago when we changed the event,” Williams said. “It was Miller Lite and Bud Light, cover bands and a carnival. We went more upscale. We changed beers and got better music.”
Al Mancini, owner of Mancini’s Pizza & Pasta, a vendor at the event, said the upscale audience is definitely a plus.
“My numbers were way up, but most importantly, I was seeing a lot of new faces,” said Mancini, who has been part of the event for the past 18 years. “There were a lot of younger people, people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.”
That’s a type of exposure a business wants, Mancini said.
“You have good, well-educated people. There were no scuffles,” he said. “You had people drink, dance, listen to music and leave, and be 100 percent safe. It was great opportunity for exposure. Who knows? One of them may see a condo for sale and become another resident and a regular customer.”