An earlier version of this article used the name of an employee at Adventure Brewing. Although not disclosed to The Blue & Gray before publication, that employee has a non-disclosure agreement with another company that prohibits them from being affiliated with other businesses on media platforms. In deference to the employee, the name has been removed
Despite CDC guidelines warnings against large gatherings and projecting cases for coronavirus to continue to rise throughout the rest of the year, Adventure Brewing Company near Eagle Village held their Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, Sept. 19.
Each year hundreds of locals and UMW students celebrate Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg. Oktoberfest, a centuries-old tradition throughout German communities involving music, food and beer, is typically held in the Fredericksburg streets downtown and outside breweries.
Festivities this year kicked off at noon with traditional German music and a welcome from the brewery. The celebration included a traditional tapping of the firkin, a stein holding contest, live music from country artist Darcy Dawn and a chicken dance contest. Tables were set up on the patio and throughout the parking lot in order to observe proper social distancing, and all patrons were required to wear a mask.
An employee of Adventure Brewing said that they had set up three separate lines to guide customers when ordering drinks. The brewery also had a limited selection of their own mugs for patrons to purchase and use to help prevent the spread of germs.
“Overall the day went really well. We had a great turnout with everyone following social distancing and wearing masks. We had a good crowd in the morning with all of our tables filled up by 2 p.m. There was a good turnover and a new wave of customers around 5-6 p.m. People seemed to really enjoy being out and about and being able to socialize again,” said the employee.
After a long day of celebration and drinking, the festivities ended around 9 p.m..
Senior business marketing major Maggie Hayes went to Adventure Brewing’s Route 1 location this past Saturday to celebrate a friend’s birthday on Oktoberfest. She described the celebration as seemingly very safe: tables were spread out in order to reduce contact with strangers and masks had to be worn in order to leave the tables. The area around the bar was also separated into sections in order to promote spacing between patrons. Marks on the ground designated where to stand in line while maintaining a comfortable and courteous distance from others.
However, later into the day people became more relaxed about following proper CDC guidelines. Hayes described a beer stein holding contest where people “crowded around the stage,” with many forgoing wearing masks.
When asked what Adventure Brewing could have done better to ensure the safety of the community, Hayes said that they could have regulated the celebration better and that there was “no real enforcement of policies.” She said people were consistently breaking the rules, seemingly with impunity.
Despite this, Hayes described the event as a fun experience which she would love to continue in the future. Her advice to anyone going to Oktoberfest celebrations was to “do a lot of research before attending and make sure the location has posted proper distancing and safety guidelines.”
Other students worry that these celebrations will only serve as epicenters for the virus. Joey Peppersack, a senior economics major, celebrated Oktoberfest last year at Capital Ale House, but decided not to attend this year.
“There were tons of people there last year and I don’t want to risk my health because I’m immunocompromised,” said Peppersack. Despite the precautions being put in place at Adventure Brewing Company, he feared it would not be enough to create a safe environment. He believed it was a bad idea to celebrate Oktoberfest this year and that it was too risky in the midst of a pandemic, especially with cases projected to skyrocket as the months get colder.