The La Mesa City Council on June 28 voted unanimously to stage Oktoberfest, a rebranded three-day event that will start September 30 and be managed by EventWerks, LLC. EventWerks’ website shows Oktoberfests in Orange County, a seven-week Lake Arrowhead event, and an October 8 event at Liberty Station.
La Mesa’s downtown event will be rebranded as an “authentic German festival,” according to a report from the city manager’s department. Rebranding includes a logo designed by EventWerks, and “authentic décor, music, games, food, and beverage.”
Oktoberfest started as a small street fair in 1971, according to the La Mesa Village Merchants Association website. The association (sometimes partnering with the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce) organized the Oktoberfest that attracted approximately 100,000 people annually. The association was the sole sponsor of the 2015 Oktoberfest, and the Reader reported that the group owed the city $47,900 for services. The matter was sent to collection.
Since the city is hosting the event, the estimated $60,000 for public safety (police and fire staffing and traffic control) will be recouped through a revenue-sharing agreement with EventWerks. The company and the city “will share the risk and reward,” assistant city manager Yvonne Garrett told the council. (Earlier, city manager David Witt said he will retire in August. Garrett will become city manager.)
Garrett said the agreement for the first year has EventWerks receive $30,000, a payment made from net proceeds. The city and EventWerks split the remaining revenue. The city’s share will be applied to public safety costs, and La Mesa may recoup between 60 to 75 percent of those expenses. Since the city can’t make a profit, Garrett said “additional revenue will be put aside for future events.”
Net proceeds will be based on an “exhaustive list” of expenses in the agreement. Expenses totaled $146,485 and ranged from $12,000 for beer (the total for 80 kegs at the average cost of $150 each) to $1000 for a beer meister. Other expenses include $12,250 for 3500 commemorative cups, $500 for 5000 beads, $12,000 for security, and a $1500 payment per band. One band will perform September 30, two bands play October 1, and one band performs October 2.
2016 La Mesa Oktoberfest territory
The beer garden will be in the Allison Avenue municipal parking lot, and vendor booths will be located on portions of La Mesa Boulevard, and Palm and Third avenues. The agreement requires the contractor to solicit La Mesa breweries and wineries “to provide local brands.” Furthermore, vendors must be pre-approved by the city, and west La Mesa Village businesses will receive a discount on booth costs.
Mayor Mark Arapostathis said in an interview that German aspects of Oktoberfest include the music, entertainers who interact with the audience, games, and songs. Another component is the food. “You can’t have Oktoberfest without bratwurst.”
Vendors will offer crafts such as ceramics and carved wood. Arapostathis said he was quoting a citizen when he said, “It won’t resemble a flea market.”
Arlene Moreau, former owner of Trunks and Parts, said on June 29 that she was among the business owners who started Oktoberfest. Back then, she restored antique trunks and lighting. “La Mesa used to have a reputation that it rolled up the sidewalks at five o’clock.”
Merchants stayed open later and put items outside their shops to attract customers. They staged a posada at Christmastime and a fall event showcasing artists and crafters. “I hope [the 2016 Oktoberfest] is open to the community. We’ve got a lot of artists and crafters in the county.”