If you’d planned on celebrating Oktoberfest at Oaks Park this year at full throttle, following last year’s absence due to the pandemic, best put your lederhosen back in storage.
The amusement park announced this week that it would have to pull the plug on the polka music and beer chugging, which was scheduled for Sept. 24-26, as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Oregon.
“It is with a heavy heart that we came to the decision to cancel the 2021 event,” the Oaks Park Association stated in a press release, “but we feel that it is the responsible thing to do.”
The organization went on to cite concerns about the rapid spread of the Delta variant as well as the health of festival guests, vendors and performers.
As an attendee of an Oktoberfest anywhere knows, the core activities are especially risky for a pandemic that’s spread via respiratory droplets. Oaks Park reinforced that message in its release: Singing, dancing along with drinking and eating in the Festhalle for extended periods of time—hence, no mask wearing—would make it hard to consistently monitor COVID safety protocols.
Unlike last year, when drive-thru entertainment took off as a more cautious way to proceed with events, Oaks Park will not host Oktoberfest To-Go. The association says it is worried a toned-down celebration in 2021 might damage the celebration’s overall brand.
But in these strange and somewhat confusing times, when one beer fest cancels, another seems to pop up in its place almost immediately.
The Oregon Brewers Guild says it is going forward with its Portland Fresh Hops Festival this October, and it will be among the first of its kind to require proof of full vaccination for entry.
“Fresh hop season is an industry favorite and being located in the Pacific Northwest gives our members an added advantage to brewing with hops harvested and delivered on the same day,” Christina LaRue, executive director of the Guild, wrote in a press release. “The Portland Fresh Hops Festival is a much anticipated annual event highlighting those beers and we wanted to find a safe way to bring it back this year.”
The guild is proceeding with extra precautions. The two-day event will be outdoors at a new venue—moving from Oaks Park to the Glendoveer Golf Course and its driving range. Additionally, admission will be broken into three separate four-hour periods, allowing organizers to limit the number of attendees per session.
For sanitation purposes, you can expect pours to be offered in compostable, single-use cups and the event crew will thoroughly clean surfaces between drinking sessions.
“Holding an in-person event has its risks, and we are taking the added measures to help protect our team, brewers, volunteers and attendees,” said LaRue. “We know that some folks will be disappointed, but we are hopeful that we will be able to see everyone back at the event in 2022.”
The Portland Fresh Hops Festival is scheduled for Oct. 1-2. Golf course-adjacent Von Ebert Brewing will offer food. The guild plans to continue to monitor the current public health situation, as well as any new state mandates, in order to make any necessary adjustments.