Adding a second day to the Hays Oktoberfest last fall has been deemed a big success. And the annual event celebrating Ellis County's Volga German heritage will remain a two-day event in the future.
"I had so many people that came into my business (Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Bistro and Market in downtown Hays) the second day and brag about organized it was, how easy it was to go down there, and how much they enjoyed it," Shaun Musil, Hays mayor, told Oktoberfest committee members during their report on the 2019 activities to the Hays City Commission.
"Kudos to your whole board."
The second day activities on Saturday were family-oriented and started in Municipal Park after the Fort Hays State University homecoming parade ended.
The German Market was also moved to the downtown pavilion last year.
"It was one of the first times we were able to foster that relationship with DHDC (Downtown Hays Development Corp.)," said Philip Kuhn, Oktoberfest president.
"That's what it's really about is getting people into our communities and enjoying not just the festival but the different offerings that we have," Kuhn added.
"We definitely appreciate what you do for the economy," Musil said.
According to Kuhn, an economic impact study by FHSU showed nearly $250,000 was spent by visitors in Hays during the two-day event.
The actual dollar amount is likely higher.
"That's from what we can actually track, the people that are staying at the hotels," Kuhn clarified. "It's not counting all the people we know who are coming back and staying with the families and friends."
"I thought it was fantastic," said Commissioner Michael Berges. "We took our three kids down there and let them run around on the bouncy houses and polka dance. The wife and I had a few beers. It worked out real well."
There were also free kids games and activities, a roving magician, the Sunflower Clydesdale horses to see and even pets available for adoption from the Humane Society of the High Plains.
Groups helping out on Saturday included the Ellis County Historical Society, Hays Fire Department and the Hays Recreation Commission.
John Meder, Oktoberfest committee vice-president, thanked the commissioners for the cooperation and support of the city.
"The parks department and public works have been tremendous over the years," Meder said.
Berges also mentioned that "children at Oktoberfest" seems like an oxymoron.
"The (German) culture is big and I think we need to keep pushing that. Yeah, we want people to drink and enjoy themselves," Kuhn responded, "but we want them to understand our German heritage."
"We want to get more food offerings and get more games and entertainment that's conducive to our German heritage."
Oktoberfest generates monies used for scholarships for students of Volga German descent as well as for area churches, many of which were built of limestone by Volga German settlers.
"We've endowed a scholarship program at Fort Hays State University. We're very close to endowing a scholarship at NCK-Tech College," Meder told the commissioners.
The Oktoberfest committee hopes to also establish similar scholarships at Hays High School and TMP-Marian High School.
The first day of Oktoberfest, on Friday, is held in conjunction with the kickoff of FHSU's homecoming weekend.
Planning for the 50th anniversary of Oktoberfest in 2022 is already underway, according to Kuhn, "but we're not losing sight of next year," he smiled.
"We want to do something really good and a little bit bigger for our 50th."