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Next year's Oldstoberfest may benefit from 2021 cancellation

The world’s first Bavarian rodeo was originally slated to run Sept. 17-18 but was cancelled last month, due to COVID restrictions
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A rider makes her way around the arena during the Oldstoberfest rodeo at the grandstand on the Olds Regional Exhibition grounds on Sept. 14, 2018. Organizers are taking advantage of the event's 2021 cancellation to take more time to organize the 2022 edition. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — There may be a silver lining in the fact that the latest COVID restrictions forced cancellation of the 2021 edition of Oldstoberfest, coordinator Gillian Grant says.

She says organizers are taking advantage of that cancellation to take more time to organize the 2022 edition, including some new ideas for it.

Oldstoberfest, called the world’s first Bavarian rodeo, was originally slated to run  Sept. 17-18 this year.

However, organizers reluctantly decided to cancel it after the provincial government announced tighter COVID-19 restrictions just a couple of days before the event.

Tentative plans call for the 2022 edition of Oldstoberfest to run Sept. 16-17.

During an interview, Grant said it was really difficult to make the decision to cancel this year’s event because that decision had to be made just a day or two before it was due to start.

It was also frustrating because that marked the second year in a row that Oldstoberfest was cancelled, due to COVID restrictions.

"It was really unfortunate, because like I said, I think we were just really wanting to bring the community together and bring Oldstoberfest back because it had already been on a year’s hiatus,” she said. 

“But because of the provincial measures that were put in and the state of emergency, we just felt it was the right decision in looking out for our attendees, our sponsors, our volunteers and our staff.

"We really did try to hold on as long as we could, but it just wasn’t in the cards for this year and there was a lot of work put into that, so yes, we really appreciate everybody, their understanding and their support in having to make that difficult decision,” she added.

However, Grant said the cancellation gives organizers extra time to plan the 2022 edition and it will likely feature some changes inspired by COVID.

For example, it may feature an outdoor biergarten, because that was what was required as this year’s edition was in the planning stages.

“With our plans changing, we learned some things and we were forced to get creative and it gave us some ideas that we can implement into 2022 that we think will make it bigger and better than ever,” Grant said.

“I think in terms of event planning with COVID, you have to be very flexible because things are changing a lot. It's unpredictable, right? 

“So all we can do is just keep our vision of being that signature event in the community, of the world’s only Bavarian rodeo, so we can keep growing.

“So right now, we’re looking at what are some things we can do to add to that weekend for sure and we’re evaluating that right now.”