Appleton hosts Fall Fest and Mocktober Fest instead of Octoberfest


APPLETON – Despite the cancellation of Octoberfest, Appleton businesses are working to attract residents and visitors to downtown this weekend.

After the Octoberfest and License to Cruise, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, were canceled on September 13 for the second year in a row, Appleton Downtown Inc. has decided to host the Downtown Appleton Farm Market. The open-air market is usually held from Saturday from June to the end of October, with the exception of the Octoberfest weekend. It will now take place on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with Unity the Band playing at Houdini Plaza between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Local businesses will also be offering their own specials and promotions this weekend.

“Really, we’ve seen business owners come forward to make their own special features,” said ADI Executive Director Jennifer Stephany. “We have bar groups that have come together to have some sort of fall festival type event, so they are booking live music and offering tastings of craft beers and other food this weekend. . And then retailers are now also doing special promotions on weekend shopping events. “

On the west side of downtown, seven bars have teamed up for a Fall Fest celebration, with each venue offering different live music performances. Another group of bars on the east end of downtown – Bad Badger, Home Burger Bar, Cleo’s, and Ambassador – host the Mocktober Fest, offering a scavenger hunt, prizes, and drink specials.

Appleton-The Avenue Bar is one of seven bars offering live music for Fall Fest. General Manager Kyle Willenkamp said their efforts have received positive feedback from the community.

“The traction we’ve had on social media is just amazing,” Willenkamp said. “I have personally heard a lot of people who were so happy that we got together to do something because they still want to come and celebrate Octoberfest.”

Among the retail stores offering promotions this weekend is Lillians of Appleton. The clothing store, which typically gives out beer koozies during the October festival, stays open late Friday and has a promotion this weekend that allows customers to get $ 10 off when they spend $ 50, has said owner Kara Manuel.

“I think the people – at least the clients that we have – are all very supportive, and they know how much Octoberfest meant to downtown businesses,” Manuel said. “So I think once they see it, and they know what the weather is supposed to be on the weekend, and they’ve made their plans, I’m sure they’ll have some of the time. downtown this plan just to support everyone. “

In a press release, the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and the Octoberfest committee attributed the cancellation to a combination of factors, including a lack of volunteers, a lack of vendors, limited transportation and the fact that children under 12-year-olds are not eligible for COVID-19. vaccine, increasing the risk of infection during the event.

Additionally, because this year marks the 40th anniversary of Octoberfest and the 30th anniversary of the cruise license would have taken place in 2020, the Chamber of Commerce stated that “the events could not be organized at the level that is suitable for travelers. milestone years of the 30th and 40th anniversaries of each event. “

For some downtown vendors and businesses who had been planning Octoberfest for months, the cancellation within two weeks of the event weekend came as a shock.

Kathy Schumann, owner of Doughlicious, a cookie dough and edible dessert store in downtown Appleton, received a large order of 52 jars of ice cream in preparation for Octoberfest on the same day the event was canceled .

“Our complaint as a company is, if this was the situation and you knew about it weeks ago, why haven’t you at least contacted us?” she said.

The Fox Cities Chamber and the Octoberfest committee declined to comment beyond the press release.

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was one of the factors behind the Octoberfest being canceled, Willenkamp said he and other downtown business owners put in place restrictions to help mitigate the spread of small events scheduled for this weekend.

“I think the lack of volunteers is probably an effect of COVID. People are a little nervous with that number of people,” Willenkamp said. “But I don’t believe that the main reason for the Fox Cities Chamber to cancel it is necessarily because of COVID. It was more to have something on this scale, you need a lot of volunteers, you need to a lot of food vendors, and … probably at the last minute with some of the growing COVID cases, they haven’t been able to pull that together. “

Contact Kelli Arseneau at (920) 213-3721 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ArseneauKelli.

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