HUNTER — Better luck next year to visitors hoping to have beers and brats at Hunter Mountain’s traditional Oktoberfest.
Hunter Mountain announced the move Sept. 9 on social media, but said some festivities will be kept in the spirit of the season. The festival was slated to take place the weekends of Sept. 25 through Oct. 17.
The festival usually offers authentic German food, German bands and dancers, vendors, crafts, children’s games and activities including face painting and a bounce house.
In 2018, Oktoberfest drew between 4,000 and 8,000 visitors per weekend, depending on the weather, Gerry Tschinkel, vice president of sales and corporate sponsorships for Hunter Mountain, said at the time.
Hunter Mountain spokesman Andrew Debrunner said the event would be revisited in the future.
“After careful consideration of a number of factors, we decided to cancel Oktoberfest this year as we weren’t confident we would be able to provide the experience our guests have grown to love and expect. We will consider revisiting this event in future years. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming guests back to the mountain this winter,” he said in a statement.
Hunter Village Mayor Alan Higgins said he understands why the event was canceled. He said in talking with Hunter Mountain, the event takes eight to 10 months to plan and it was difficult to predict how the pandemic would take shape.
“I understand why, but I’m saddened by it because it brings a lot of revenue to our local businesses,” Higgins said.
Higgins said the mountain fully intends to have its traditional Oktoberfest next year, and while it could have happened this year, it wouldn’t have been near its usual scale.
Despite the cancellation, Hunter Mountain plans to keep vendors available for upcoming weekends.
“However, we still want to keep the spirit alive throughout the season so Scotty’s will be here offering authentic knocks and brats, complementing our Oktoberfest beer,” according to a statement issued by Hunter Mountain.
The decision sparked outcry on social media, as many said the decision to cancel an outdoor event was unnecessary.
The resort invited guests to its other programming, like getting tickets to its scenic skyride to view the changing fall foliage.
Tschinkel said in 2018 that the time of year Oktoberfest falls is an important one for the area.
“This has been our first taste of the crisp coolness of fall,” he said. “It helps get people excited about ski season.”
Oktoberfest, which is held annually in Munich, Germany, was canceled for a second year due to concerns surrounding the pandemic. The decision was made in May, according to the festival’s website.
The mountain is set to open for skiing and snowboarding Nov. 19, weather permitting.