Winter Haven Oktoberfest Celebrates 15 Years With Biggest Turnout
by James Coulter
Winter Haven may be hundreds of miles away from Germany, but the city proved to be just as festive during its 15th Annual Oktoberfest presented by Victor Smith Law Group.
Hosted by Main Street Winter Haven, the annual celebration of beer and brats showcased 25 beer tents from 15 local breweries. Guests were able to sample the beer with their complementary glass, eat bratwurst and sauerkraut, and enjoy live oompahmusic.
Hundreds of people flocked to Central Park in Downtown Winter Haven for the beer, food, and festivities. This year’s Oktoberfest experienced the largest turnout during its largest event, especially in light of the pandemic and Hurricane Ian.
“It is packed,” said Bailey McDaniel, Main Street Winter Haven Assistant Director. “You can barely walk to each of these tents…I think the audience speaks for itself. With the uncertainty of the pandemic and the uncertainty of the hurricane last week, we hoped that people were safe and they would be able to come out as they did in troves. We are so appreciative.”
Victor Smith Law Group has been their event’s long-standing presenting sponsor. They, along with the many other local breweries and businesses, help make the event the great success it always is, McDaniel said.
“They singlehandedly help so many of this happen,” she said. “This is easily our largest Octoberfest ever.”
Even in spite of the wake of Hurricane Ian and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the overall turnout proved that people were willing to go outdoors and have great fun spending quality time with one another.
“Just seeing the park full and everyone enjoying themselves, I say people are ready to come out and celebrate a little bit,” said Anita Strang, President and CEO of Main Street Winter Haven. “I also think people in general can be successful. They want to come out and celebrate a little bit.”
Swan Brewing from Lakeland was one of the many participating breweries that evening. They offered samples of a German wheat beer that had proven popular for them, even by people from Germany.
“It is one our favorites,” said a Swan Brewing representative. “We have whole compliments on it from actual people in Germany saying it is the best they have had. We are excited to be here… [with] just overall good vibes and good beer.”