Oktoberfest Begins with Beer!

Large crowds of people are expected to fill the streets of Hermann next month as the community celebrates its annual Oktoberfest.

“Oktoberfest will go on but there will be some changes to this year,” said Tammy Bruckerhoff, Hermann’s tourism and economic development director. The city government helps organize the annual event, which was first held some 50 years ago and attracts thousands to the Gasconade community of 2,330 people.

Bruckerhoff said unlike other Oktoberfest celebrations, which have attendees crowded under large tents, Hermann’s festivities are spread out throughout businesses in the community, including wineries, restaurants, retail shops, and museums.

Organizers for Hermann’s Oktoberfest have created a directory of participating businesses, which provides attendees a guide for what steps businesses are taking in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. The directory is updated daily.

The directory, which is available online at visithermann.org, lists 84 businesses in Hermann that are participating in Oktoberfest. Of those businesses, 13 say they require their employees to wear masks. Two businesses say it is up to their employees whether or not to wear a mask.

Only one business — the Historic Hermann Museum — is listed as requiring masks to be worn by customers.

Adrain Sigrist, co-owner of the Alpenhorn Gasthaus and Kitchen, said the online listing incorrectly lists his business as not requiring customers to wear a mask and encourages customers to call ahead to businesses to verify information.

“People are required to wear a mask when they get here. We even ask very nicely that they wear a mask in the bathroom,” said Sigrist, who added the business has also installed a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and disinfecting system.

Sigrist has also restricted how many people can be in his business at one time, which is financially hindering his business.

“You like to have the business, especially from Oktoberfest, but the health of people is more important to us right now,” Sigrist said.

Seven other businesses — Adam Puchta Winery and Bistro; Concert Hall and Barrel Tavern; Wood Hat Spirits; Stone Hill Winery; Orscheln Farm and Home Store; and Deutschheim State Historic Site — are listed on the database as not requiring masks but “encourage” patrons to don masks while inside their store or restaurant.  

Sixteen businesses say they are requiring patrons to social distance themselves when in their businesses.

The Missourian unsuccessfully reached out to Black Shire Distillery Farm, which is one of the businesses not requiring masks for comment. The newspaper also reached out to Stone Hill Winery and Adam Puchta Winery and Bistro, which are two of the businesses strongly encouraging masks to be worn and social distancing guidelines to be followed, but those calls were not returned as of press time.

While Bruckerhoff acknowledges some Oktoberfest attendees may have concerns about COVID-19, she is optimistic that people will still come to Hermann.

“We just hope people will still come and that people will understand that some businesses are requiring masks, some are respectfully asking and that all of the businesses are taking some kind of precautions,” Bruckerhoff said.

Dr. Tom Riechers, Chief of Staff at Mercy Hospital in Washington, said he appreciated how some businesses were being proactive in their efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which has sickened 229 people and caused the deaths of at least 20 people in Gasconade County. The county currently has 33 active cases. Of those sickened with COVID-19 in Gasconade County, 176 have recovered.

“With Oktoberfest in Hermann, you have people visiting from all over the state and you can’t necessarily be sure what they are bringing or carrying into the community and you can’t also be sure of what may already be in the community,” said Riechers, who added that he encourages would-be Oktoberfest attendees to plan ahead.

“I would encourage everyone to bring a mask with them and to have it on them, whether it is tied around their neck or in their shirt pocket, but to have it on them so that if they were to get into a situation where they perceive that they can’t socially distance and that there maybe is a crowd of people then they can quietly slip the mask on,” Riechers said.

He reiterated that masks are effective against preventing the spread of the virus.

“It is important to keep in mind that when we wear masks in the hospital that the masks are for the protection of the patient, less for the protection of the physician. You are wearing a mask more for someone else’s benefit than your own,” said Riechers, who acknowledged that it is likely that people from Franklin County will still travel to Hermann for Oktoberfest.

Riechers said he would also encourage those who are deemed high risk for contracting COVID-19, which includes those who are over 70 years old, who are immune compromised and those who have preexisting conditions, to avoid the event which organizers have said has been expanded to include specials on non-weekend days during October to allow customers more flexibility for when they come to Hermann.

“Nearly everything is different this year because of COVID-19, but one thing remains the same — October is a beautiful time to come to Hermann,” said Bruckerhoff, who added that revenues generated during Octoberfest are a cornerstone for many Hermann-based businesses.

Bruckerhoff said, “The fourth quarter of the year is typically the biggest quarter of the year for us and Oktoberfest is a big part of the reason why.”

ecolbert@emissourian.com

Large crowds of people are expected to fill the streets of Hermann next month as the community celebrates its annual Oktoberfest.

“Oktoberfest will go on but there will be some changes to this year,” said Tammy Bruckerhoff, Hermann’s tourism and economic development director. The city government helps organize the annual event, which was first held some 50 years ago and attracts thousands to the Gasconade community of 2,330 people.

Bruckerhoff said unlike other Oktoberfest celebrations, which have attendees crowded under large tents, Hermann’s festivities are spread out throughout businesses in the community, including wineries, restaurants, retail shops, and museums.

Organizers for Hermann’s Oktoberfest have created a directory of participating businesses, which provides attendees a guide for what steps businesses are taking in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. The directory is updated daily.

The directory, which is available online at visithermann.org, lists 84 businesses in Hermann that are participating in Oktoberfest. Of those businesses, 13 say they require their employees to wear masks. Two businesses say it is up to their employees whether or not to wear a mask.

Only one business — the Historic Hermann Museum — is listed as requiring masks to be worn by customers.

Adrain Sigrist, co-owner of the Alpenhorn Gasthaus and Kitchen, said the online listing incorrectly lists his business as not requiring customers to wear a mask and encourages customers to call ahead to businesses to verify information.

“People are required to wear a mask when they get here. We even ask very nicely that they wear a mask in the bathroom,” said Sigrist, who added the business has also installed a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and disinfecting system.

Sigrist has also restricted how many people can be in his business at one time, which is financially hindering his business.

“You like to have the business, especially from Oktoberfest, but the health of people is more important to us right now,” Sigrist said.

Seven other businesses — Adam Puchta Winery and Bistro; Concert Hall and Barrel Tavern; Wood Hat Spirits; Stone Hill Winery; Orscheln Farm and Home Store; and Deutschheim State Historic Site — are listed on the database as not requiring masks but “encourage” patrons to don masks while inside their store or restaurant.  

Sixteen businesses say they are requiring patrons to social distance themselves when in their businesses.

The Missourian unsuccessfully reached out to Black Shire Distillery Farm, which is one of the businesses not requiring masks for comment. The newspaper also reached out to Stone Hill Winery and Adam Puchta Winery and Bistro, which are two of the businesses strongly encouraging masks to be worn and social distancing guidelines to be followed, but those calls were not returned as of press time.

While Bruckerhoff acknowledges some Oktoberfest attendees may have concerns about COVID-19, she is optimistic that people will still come to Hermann.

“We just hope people will still come and that people will understand that some businesses are requiring masks, some are respectfully asking and that all of the businesses are taking some kind of precautions,” Bruckerhoff said.

Dr. Tom Riechers, Chief of Staff at Mercy Hospital in Washington, said he appreciated how some businesses were being proactive in their efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which has sickened 229 people and caused the deaths of at least 20 people in Gasconade County. The county currently has 33 active cases. Of those sickened with COVID-19 in Gasconade County, 176 have recovered.

“With Oktoberfest in Hermann, you have people visiting from all over the state and you can’t necessarily be sure what they are bringing or carrying into the community and you can’t also be sure of what may already be in the community,” said Riechers, who added that he encourages would-be Oktoberfest attendees to plan ahead.

“I would encourage everyone to bring a mask with them and to have it on them, whether it is tied around their neck or in their shirt pocket, but to have it on them so that if they were to get into a situation where they perceive that they can’t socially distance and that there maybe is a crowd of people then they can quietly slip the mask on,” Riechers said.

He reiterated that masks are effective against preventing the spread of the virus.

“It is important to keep in mind that when we wear masks in the hospital that the masks are for the protection of the patient, less for the protection of the physician. You are wearing a mask more for someone else’s benefit than your own,” said Riechers, who acknowledged that it is likely that people from Franklin County will still travel to Hermann for Oktoberfest.

Riechers said he would also encourage those who are deemed high risk for contracting COVID-19, which includes those who are over 70 years old, who are immune compromised and those who have preexisting conditions, to avoid the event which organizers have said has been expanded to include specials on non-weekend days during October to allow customers more flexibility for when they come to Hermann.

“Nearly everything is different this year because of COVID-19, but one thing remains the same — October is a beautiful time to come to Hermann,” said Bruckerhoff, who added that revenues generated during Octoberfest are a cornerstone for many Hermann-based businesses.

Bruckerhoff said, “The fourth quarter of the year is typically the biggest quarter of the year for us and Oktoberfest is a big part of the reason why.”