Oktoberfest Drama Leads Some Longtime Volunteers to Quit

Several of the 150 main planning Oktoberfest volunteers have resigned, citing drama with River Parks Authority. Different volunteers estimated that about 100 of those volunteers will soon quit or have already.

"The change that River Parks is implementing right now, is what is referred to as a top-down type of organization. All decisions, all ideas will come from River Parks. They will allow the volunteers to come out and put on the festival," said Sigmund Hohulski. He has been volunteering with Oktoberfest for more than 30 years. He said he always enjoyed how in years past, volunteers felt empowered to plan different areas.

We asked volunteer Evan Elsberry if he planned to attend the event after quitting the planning stages. "Probably not this year. Probably not," he said.

River Parks explained that the volunteers were a part of Oktoberfest Inc., a nonprofit volunteer group. However, it said 2010's Oktoberfest accrued debt, and the group handed control to River Parks. It said many longtime volunteers are continuing to work with River Parks. It still wants community involvement in the event.

Hohulski said River Parks is also no longer allowing those full-time, on-the-clock volunteers to drink beer at the festival. River Parks allows off-duty volunteers to drink, but Hohulski said, in the past, those on the clock the whole time were allowed to drink throughout the day. He said the volunteers' mantra was "We work for free beer!" River Parks told Channel 8 it is not allowing this for the safety of the volunteers and the public.

Oktoberfest will celebrate its 35th year in 2013. You may visit this site for more information on how to volunteer, as River Parks spokesperson Tanja Carrigg said the event usually incorporates 2,000 volunteers and sees about 60,000 guests.