Plenty of German beer is a must for Sumter Oktoberfest on Main, but Danielle Thompson, co-owner of Hamptons Restaurant, which presents the event, said it wasn't like that during the first event eight years ago. She said they ordered kegs of German beer that year, but attendees didn't seem to have a taste for it.
"We got stuck with half of it," she said.
In the seven years since then, Sumter Oktoberfest has become one of Sumter's best-attended events, and the problem has been stocking in enough German brew.
"Now, they want more and more," she said.
Sumter Oktoberfest on Main is now in its eighth year, and the festivities will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Visitors from near and far will flock to downtown Sumter to dance to polkas, drink beer and feast on schnitzels, wursts and brats. Not to mention pizza, Mexican food, jalapeno poppers, Texas-style brisket, ribs and more. Food vendors will include Hamptons Restaurant, Side Bar and the Sidewalk Caf .
The polkas will be provided by Die Lustigen Musikanten (the Happy Musicians) returning for their third year, along with a Bavarian dance troop who will help get festivalgoers up and moving to the German folk music.
There will be some changes to the festival this year, with the band located near Hampton Street and the after party at La Piazza. However, the big picnic tables and special lighting for the event will be back, Thompson said.
She said the event may expand to a multi-day affair next year, when the new hotel on Main Street is completed.
"When the hotel is open, we won't have to close Main Street for the whole event, just Saturday for the Oktoberfest," she said.
Of course, Sumter Oktoberfest isn't just a reason to put on your lederhosen and stuff yourself with schnitzel. Proceeds from the event support Sumter United Ministries.
"Last year, after paying for itself, the festival raised over $30,000 for United Ministries," Thompson said.
In addition, it brings people downtown who may not normally visit the area.
"I love it because it brings people of all ages, young and old," she said. "People who never see downtown can see what it has to offer."
That's one reason the City of Sumter assists the event.
"Not many cities across the country get to experience, celebrate and learn about German heritage," Sumter Tourism Director Shelley Kile said.
For those interested in German beer, attendees can get of taste of Bitburger Pilsner, Franziskaner Hefeweissbier, Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest, Konig Ludwig Dunkel Weis, Paulaner Hefeweis, Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, Spaten Lager or Warsteiner Oktoberfest.
Sumter Oktoberfest on Main is sponsored by the Thompsons, as well as Continental Tire the Americas, Thompson Turner Construction, Sumter EMS, BD, Bynum Insurance, Community Broadcaster and the City of Sumter.
Tickets are $10 in advance at Hamptons Restaurant, Swan Lake Visitors Center or at www.oktoberfestsumter.com. Tickets will also be available at the gate for $15.