Oktoberfest sees 45% attendance increase

A man holds a stein of beer at the opening ceremony of Oktoberfest 2023 on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. (Martha Needham)

CULLMAN, Ala– It seems all of Cullman is a bit quieter this week as the city recovers from an action-packed weekend. The Warehouse District is slowly coming back together while traditional German garb is being carefully put away until next year. The thousands of visitors who flocked to Cullman for German entertainment and dining have gone home, and local residents are back at work and school. Cullman Oktoberfest 2023 has officially come to a close, with the community turning its eyes toward fall festivals, trunk-or-treats and hayrides. 

Life of the party, host of the festivities and 2023 Burgermeister Dale Greer reflected on the three-day fest, sharing the honor he felt at being given the once-in-a-lifetime role. 

“Serving as the ambassador of a festival that attracted thousands of visitors and local citizens to a family friendly event showing our community and celebrating our 150-year history was a remarkable experience,” he acknowledged. “It was exciting to see hundreds of people dressed in lederhosen and dirndls acknowledging our German heritage!”  

Greer gave many thanks to Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism (CPRST) staff, and appreciation for the direction they’ve steered the festival, noting, “I see this event becoming even bigger in the future!” 

According to CPRST Executive Director Nathan Anderson, the celebration was a communitywide success, thanks not only to CPRST staff, but also largely to a number of sponsors and local volunteers who pulled together to help them make the magic happen.  

“The festival wouldn’t have been possible without our talented and dedicated team, as well as the invaluable assistance of our 2023 Burgermeister Dale Greer, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, Cullman County Museum, St. Paul’s, St. John’s, Sacred Heart, Goat Island, Cullman County Commission on Aging and numerous other city departments,” said Anderson. “We are always grateful for the support from our generous sponsors, and the dedication of so many volunteers within our local community. Their unwavering commitment was instrumental in ensuring the resounding success of this event.” 

Anderson noted an estimated 45% increase in attendance from last year’s festival, with attendance of the opening ceremony alone nearly doubled from previous years. With growth of that size, there’s sure to be some growing pains. Anderson said guest experience remains one of CPRST’s top priorities, and he hopes to bring some adjustments to next year’s experience. 

“Looking ahead to next year, our priority remains the preservation of Oktoberfest’s authenticity. We are committed to enhancing the overall guest experience, particularly in terms of providing more refined shade and dining areas,” said Anderson. “Our focus on delivering exceptional entertainment will continue, all while maintaining our commitment to the event’s long-term sustainability. Anticipate exciting developments as we prepare for Oktoberfest 2024!” 

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