Oktoberfest planners expand event, build community's tourism profile

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Plans are underway for Oktoberfest 2017, Josh Selleck says, and there’s a lot on tap this year.

A bit more than two months out from the event, organizers are expanding plans for the latest festival, set from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, on North Kilgore Street and Main.

While Avalon Faire’s Oktoberfest activities take place on Sept. 29, within the traditional mid-September to early-October season, the city’s celebrations fall later, offering another weekend of activities for locals and, hopefully, another attraction for visitors.

The downtown event is spearheaded by the Kilgore Main Street program with key assistance from local merchants, the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce’s tourism arm and other volunteers. According to Selleck, Kilgore city manager, Oktoberfest is another ongoing attempt to bolster Kilgore’s destination-reputation.

“We’re really trying to get regionally established as a go-to for this type of event tourism,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve got multiple facets of our tourism – we’ve got day-trippers, we’ve got weekenders and we’ve got these event-specific items.”

Those activities ideally drive visitors to other attractions, Selleck added, such as local museums and outdoor recreation.

“You attend a great event like this and really get your feel for the type of community that Kilgore is, really that cool, historic downtown feel.”

To that end, planners behind the city’s 2017 event – its fourth annual Oktoberfest celebration in the Main Street District – are once again aiming for bigger-and-better.

For example, “We’re planning to expand the beer garden tents, and we’re planning to have the event flow just a bit better than last year,” Selleck said. “We’re planning for a bigger crowd. We got a lot of feedback last year: people liked the event and are planning to come back and bring their friends.”

The whole event will be family-friendly, the city manager emphasized, though the North Kilgore Street beer garden will, of course, be reserved for adults while children have their own activity area around the corner on Main Street.

“Everybody’s welcome. They’ll have a great view of the entertainment,” he added: so far, the lineup includes the Bier Nutz oompah band and the return of the ‘Kilgore’s Got Talent’ competition. “We had some incredible acts come out last year, and we’re going to make sure we can fill up two solid hours of entertainment with that.”

Guests in 2016 requested more drink options beyond the beer garden, and the event’s planning committee are adding additional root beer and soda flavors to the menu.

For those looking for a brew, “We heard last year from those who wanted to partake in adult beverages that they enjoyed the craft beers, but they also desired some domestic offerings,” Selleck noted. Volunteers from AMBUCS of East Texas will be running the beer garden again as a fundraiser: “Our bier-meisters are planning to have a broader selection that meets more palates.

“Then, of course, you can’t forget the downtown merchants who will be getting into the swing of things and offering seasonally-appropriate fare and merchandise.”

Learn more about Avalon Faire’s Oktoberfest plans (noon to 9 p.m. Sept. 30) at AvalonFaire.com/Oktoberfest and in upcoming editions of the Kilgore News Herald, along with updates on the city’s plans for the downtown event Oct. 14.

Vendors can sign up for a Main Street Oktoberfest spot by contacting Kilgore City Hall at 903-988-4113. Applications are also available for download at KilgoreNewsHerald.com.

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