When the heavens opened Monday, Sept. 23, and delivered 3.5 inches of rain in five hours and a chance of 80 percent more predicted through Thursday of that week, Oktoberfest organizer Christine Colley knew she would have to revise plans.
Water filled low-lying sections of Fountain Park into mini-ponds. Although the water would recede significantly by the opening of the 12th Oktoberfest Friday evening, Sept. 27, the ground would be muddy and too saturated for beer trucks and supplier vehicles to negotiate without getting stuck and destroying the turf. Setting up food and vendor tents, tables and chairs would be impossible.
“We had to make a decision to determine if we were going to go forward and take a risk or lose $20,000 now or thousands more later,” said Colley.
After 24 hours of “stressful assessment,” Colley, president of Fountain Hills Events, Inc., decided to cancel Oktoberfest.
“Three months of planning was wiped out in 24 hours,” said Colley. “Once I made the decision, I felt good.”
When she announced the popular event would not take place, two businesses and a civic organization volunteered to assist in staging a mini-Oktoberfest.
“I knew that a lot of people would be disappointed so I volunteered to host it for the first night,” said Merita Kraya, owner of Euro Pizza.
Fireside Grill owner Casey Grogan picked up Saturday’s activities where he hosted Die Echten Waldbuam Band on his patio.
Members of BPO Elks Club, who traditionally served German brats, homemade sauerkraut and potato salad at a food tent in Fountain Park, opened the Parkview lodge for dinner Friday night.
Enthusiastic crowds supported the scaled-down events with both Euro Pizza and Fireside Grill experiencing long waits for tables.
Both restaurants accommodated guests who only wanted to enjoy the music without purchasing a meal
Chamber of Commerce executive director Betsy LaVoie said the organization financially supported the event with an $800 donation and “words of encouragement.” She attended with her two children dressed in German attire.
A total of 600 tickets were sold for the raffle drawing of two roundtrip, non-stop Condor Airline tickets from Frankfurt, Germany, to Phoenix.
Siglinde Mueller held the winning ticket drawn by Camille Logan, 6. Mueller, of Mainz, Germany, was visiting her sister, Christine Colley, for the first time during the local Oktoberfest.