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Oldstoberfest is a go this fall

Organizers are ready to work with AHS if COVID-19 restrictions are imposed again
MVT Oldstoberfest 2018
Dignitaries toast after the ceremonial tapping of the keg at the start of the Oldstoberfest rodeo in 2018. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — C5 Rodeo is forging ahead with plans for another edition of Oldstoberfest, the world’s first Bavarian-themed rodeo, although organizers are aware that another COVID-19 wave might change those plans.

That was the message from C5 Rodeo coordinator Gillian Grant brought to council during a meeting. Tickets are already on sale.

The rodeo, first held in 2015, “has become one of the town’s premier events and (is) on track to bring an estimated 8,000 visitors to Olds and (provide) international live streaming exposure,” a report to council from administrative staff said.

Grant confirmed plans call for the rodeo to be held Sept. 17-18 this year.

She and Mayor Mike Muzychka noted that due to COVID-19 restrictions, Oldstoberfest was not held last year. 

In its place, organizers held Oldstoberfest Week, which consisted of a kick-off keg-tapping event, colouring contests, a community business scavenger hunt and a free drive-thru pancake breakfast.

“As you know, COVID has brought a lot of challenges for the event industry – with every industry. And so we are very excited and thrilled to be back into the full-force planning for Oldstoberfest 2021,” Grant told town councillors.

“We were really unsure what September was going to look like. We were able to do a little bit of pre-planning, obviously; set dates and put feelers out there, but unfortunately, we weren’t really able to move forward until (Premier Jason) Kenney’s announcement, which was that first week of June/end of May announcement where Alberta was open for summer.

"It gave us a lot more certainty and the confidence for us to start the planning stages for 2021. So instead of having 52 weeks (to organize it), we’ve been really cracking down. We’ve had about 15 weeks (to brand) so we’ve been in full throttle and full force with the stages of Oldstoberfest.”

Grant said she and other organizers see Oldstoberfest as a great way to spur the economy by driving tourism to the community.

Grant said over the years, C5 Rodeo has built a great reputation with events across North America. She said the company can use that reputation to “continue to build this as a bucket list rodeo to bring folks, not only from all over Alberta, but from all over the United States, Canada and Europe.”

That said, Grant indicated planners are aware of fears that another COVID wave could hit the province again later this year, possibly resulting in more restrictions.

“At this point, we’re full-fledged planning and we’re hoping that we’re not going to have too many more COVID obstacles come our way,” she said.

“However, we will be fully co-operating with AHS (Alberta Health Services) and making sure that we are delivering the safest event possible that we can and we’re looking forward to bringing this back in the community.”

Grant said organizers will be applying to the town for a Destination Olds grant to help fund the event. She also asked town officials to ensure peace officers will be on hand to help police the event.

Councillors thanked Grant and C5 for their support and promotion of the community.

Muzychka described Oldstoberfest as “one of the cornerstone events in Olds,” adding it was sorely missed last year.

“You did a good job with the virtual end of it – Oldstoberweek – but it just wasn’t the same as getting down there in the dirt and having a good old rodeo and concerts and biergartens and so forth, so we look forward to it, especially this year, because it’s the comeback,” he said.

Coun. Wanda Blatz asked Grant if C5 will be working with the Olds & District Chamber of Commerce to get businesses involved in promoting it.

Grant said they’ll be doing that for sure. She said they also plan to encourage businesses to promote the rodeo with a Bavarian theme, as in previous years.

Coun. Heather Ryan noted she and other councillors have volunteered at Oldstoberfest in previous years. She asked if residents are encouraged to volunteer for this year’s edition. 

Grant said they are. She suggested they visit in order to sign up.