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Make Oldstoberfest bigger, better organizer says

Gillian Grant of C5 Rodeo suggests everything from parades to trade shows to attract more people
mvtCook breakfast-2A
Volunteers cook food during the Oldstoberfest Week pancake breakfast at the Olds Regional Exhbition grounds. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — Plans are in the works to make Oldstoberfest a one-of-kind Bavarian rodeo -- even bigger and better in the future, says organizer Gillian Grant.

That could mean everything from parades and trade shows to bigger concerts that will attract people beyond the usual rodeo fans.

Grant can even envision a day when Oldstoberfest will span several more days each year and attract the kind of enthusiasm that the Stampede does in Calgary.

She made all those points during a presentation to Olds council after this year's event said organizers will continue to apply to the town each time for grants to help stage the event.

Grant is with C5 Rodeo, which does much of the organizing and provides the rodeo stock for the fall event.

She noted that unfortunately this year, due to COVID-19, Oldstoberfest didn’t run as it usually does. The rodeo was cancelled.

Instead, the event, which ran Sept. 23-26 was called Oldstoberfest Week and featured the traditional tapping of the keg, a pancake breakfast and a business scavenger hunt.

Grant noted the Bavarian-themed rodeo began in 2015 and said it has broken attendance records ever since.

“Our vision is just overall continue to grow this event, maximize tourism impacts and establish more activation throughout the community,” Grant said.

“One of the things that we’ve continued to say is the sky’s the limit. We want to grow this thing as big as we possibly can.”

In addition to the rodeo, Oldstoberfest also includes beer gardens and concerts.

“As we grow bigger and we’re able to bring more people, we would love to have larger musical acts, more diverse activities, and just an overall presence,” Grant said.

“You know, classic rock and craft beer demographics are something that we’ve worked on the past few years. I think we’d like to also work a little bit more in senior and youth activities as well as agriculture education.

“I think we want to see the town of Olds go into Oldstoberfest mode when we walk in, just like the Calgary Stampede. And we know that’s going to take a time; we are still a young event, but we are seeing that every year. Different folks are getting engaged in that."

C5 Rodeo stages rodeos throughout North America. Grant said the volunteers and officials who help organize and run Oldstoberfest are “world class.”

“The support from our sponsors, our relationships with a lot of key organizations throughout the community has been positive and grown every year,” she said.

“We’ve just seen so much growth in that and it really fires a part of our why, why we want to continue, because it’s just a really great place to host an event.”

She said for the 2019 edition, for the first time, organizers bought ads on Sportsnet. That seemed to bring in more visitors.

Grant said tickets were purchased from five different provinces and as well the countries the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the US and Germany.

She got a kick out of the fact that people from Germany came to the rodeo.

“It’s kind of fun that we’re able to kind of get them to experience Bavaria from outside of Germany, so that’s fun,” she said.

Council accepted Grant’s approximately 16-minute presentation as information.

“I have worked with Gillian over the past few years that Oldstoberfest has been here and it is an awesome project to be part of,” Coun. Mary Anne Overwater said.

“And hopefully next year Gillian, it will be even bigger and better. I know you’re planning great things, so hopefully we’ll be a part of that as well.”