A stein full of fall

Several children look over pumpkins and gourds during a free event Saturday during Owosso's scaled-down Oktoberfest.

OWOSSO — Despite COVID-19 restrictions that originally forced the cancellation of the 2020 Oktoberfest, Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce organizers were able to hold a scaled-down version Saturday after statewide orders were eased.

A free pumpkin giveaway for kids took place, and many children made the most of the opportunity.

Oktoberfest 2020 beer steins were available for purchase.

The steins feature a commemorative COVID/Oktoberfest logo.

A virtual “Beer Run” 5K also began Friday, and will continue until Oct. 16. Participants can walk or run, and take part in any location inside or outside — even on a treadmill.

The full Oktoberfest 2020 event was initially canceled in August, due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders affecting outdoor gatherings.

“Oktoberfest requires several months of advance preparation, therefore the decision to cancel the ‘biergarten’ and polka dance had to be made now,” the chamber said in a press release at the time.

“Eighty percent of the event’s budget is spent locally and hundreds of out-of-town visitors also add revenue to our local economy. Local festivals, fairs and events have far more economic impact than many may realize,” former Chamber president/CEO Jeff Deason said in August.

The local event, modeled after Frankenmuth’s famous party and those in Germany, began in 2014.

The centerpiece is the biergarten where polka and other style bands perform while patrons can partake in various types of beer.

In the inaugural year, then-Mayor Ben Frederick tapped a ceremonial keg to open the weekend festival.

Lenny Gomulka and the Chicago Push Band have been a mainstay polka band during the festival’s run.

Numerous events throughout this year have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic and statewide orders prohibiting large gatherings.

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