Tallahassee's Elder Care Oktoberfest moves to Cascades Park for Oct. 10 event
Well, it appears the 2021 beer festival calendar year WON'T end without at least one event happening in the Craft Capital.
After much deliberation by organizers, the 2021 Elder Care Services Oktoberfest IS happening this year.
The date? Sunday, Oct. 10 from 2-5 p.m.
The location? Cascades Park.
The highlights? German food. German music. And LOTS of local craft beer — including local breweries Deep Brewing, Lake Tribe Brewing, Oyster City Brewing, Halpatter Brewing, Georgia Beer Company, Southern Philosophy, Southern Fields and Civic Brewing all on hand.
It should be a day-drinking celebration at its finest!
Other beer festivals
Yes, the Tallahassee Beer Festival — originally scheduled for Aug. 28 before being postponed — is back on and slated for Sunday, Nov. 7, at the Tucker Civic Center. But who knows what will happen between now and then? We certainly don't — although we are optimistic and hopeful the 3rd Annual TLH Beer Fest will go off without issue this time.
What we do know is that three other events — the Big Bend Brewfest (Perry), the SGI Brewfest (St. George Island) and Brews By The Bay (Wakulla County) — all opted to press pause on their events this year with plans of resuming in 2022.
That left Elder Care's annual event, which is going into its 23rd year and is Tallahassee's longest-running Oktoberfest celebration, as a bit of a wild card.
But between the move to a giant outdoor space like Cascades Park — which will play host to its first-ever craft beer event since it opened a decade ago — and lots of safety measures being put into place, Elder Care CEO and President Josie Fliger felt confident she and her staff could pull off a successful event amid the ongoing pandemic.
"We are very excited to be back," Fliger said. "This has been a tradition in Leon County for 23 years and we missed being with everyone last year to support seniors. We have many measures in place to ensure that everyone has fun while staying safe."
Safety measures in place for fundraiser
When asked for details about Elder Care's plans, Fliger said the safety measures included:
- An expansive walk-through "beer village" that allows for movement and distance
- Distanced seating amid an open-air event location. ("We plan to spread out in Cascades Park and provide amply-spaced seating at the Amphitheater and picnicking areas on the grass," she told us.)
- Single-portioned food offerings that guests can take to their own area of the event (No more self-serve, buffet-style)
- Masks encouraged when around others
- Attendance-cap to ensure enough space for everyone to enjoy the event safely
- Opportunity to pick up items from a to-go station if you prefer not to enter the Oktoberfest village
- A vaccination station for anyone who wants to get the shot
The 2020 Oktoberfest was canceled at the height of the pandemic and Elder Care attempted to put on a virtual event, but it didn't raise anywhere near the amount of money the organization is accustomed to. But Fliger says she hopes this year's return of the festivities is a shot in the arm for ECS, which was founded in 1970 and remains a leading provider of community-based senior care.
"In blue sky times, we have raised $150,000 at recent Oktoberfests," she said. "The money raised at Oktoberfest helps seniors receive critical services like Meals on Wheels, a ride to the doctor’s office, or a hot bath. Much of our state and federal funding does not cover the full costs of services to seniors, so Oktoberfest helps us bridge that financial gap."
Personally, we think if there is ANY organization in Tallahassee that's well-equipped for being the test case to pull off a large gathering like this, Elder Care is the one. They've been holding these events for over two decades now, and their entire goal is to take care of some of Tallahassee's most vulnerable residents. So they aren't going into this event with anything other than safety-first in mind.
What about the local brews?
As for the craft beer aspect of the event? Well, there's a few things we want to highlight about those who are pouring this year:
- Tallahassee's own Deep Brewing and Lake Tribe Brewing never miss a chance to support Elder Care. Deep even brewed a special beer for the event 3 years ago — Shallow End Kolsch — and it will was so popular, they turned it into a core beer that is now available year-round. (And, yes, they will be pouring it again this year)
- Oyster City's Tallahassee location has been open less than two months, and this is the first local event they will be involved in since moving into the old GrassLands Brewing facility at 603 W. Gaines St.
- Civic Brewing in Wakulla is in a similar situation — they've only been open a few months, and THIS event will be their "beer festival" debut. And we hear they plan to roll out their first Oktoberfest beer then too!
- Georgia Beer Company is coming off multiple wins recently in several major competitions around the country, and they are eager to share some of their award-winning beer with Tallahassee.
- Halpatter Brewing (Lake City), Southern Fields (Campbellton) and Southern Philosophy (Bainbridge, Georgia.) all deserve a big hand for agreeing to take part and donate their beer considering all three breweries are between 45 and 90 miles away from Tallahassee. They all make phenomenal beer, and this trio were all on hand the last time the Elder Care Oktoberfest was held in-person in 2019.
Craft beer village for all
To that final point, in 2019 when we had every brewery within a 100-mile radius in the house for the Oktoberfest, the majority of them were in the VIP area pouring. But this year all eight local breweries will be stationed in the main "craft beer village," which is accessible to those with general admission or VIP tickets.
However, for those opting to go the VIP route, you will get to sample at least one special beer from each brewery that will only be available for VIP ticket holders. One of the event's primary sponsors, Tri-Eagle Sales & Distribution, will also be on hand pouring beers from its brands, and will be donating special beers of its own to the VIP area.
Food is included in the cost of tickets: $50 for general admission and $100 for VIP, which gains entrance to the festival an hour early at 1 p.m., a souvenir pint glass and access to special VIP beers. Elder Care also offers a "Sponsorship Package" for $1,000 that gives businesses their own private seating area, signage and 10 VIP tickets to distribute.
Between the positivity rates of coronavirus cases declining in recent weeks, as well as overall hospitalizations, the time seems right to move forward with an event like this — but we also understand if some are still apprehensive.
We would encourage you to take advantage of the to-go option so you can sample the amazing German cuisine served up at this event every year, while also supporting a worthy local nonprofit.
Pick the option that works best for you and get involved in the 23rd Annual Elder Care Oktoberfest.
We'll see ya there!