Denver is playing host to the Olympics of beer games this month -- and it could be a historic one if the city's fortieth annual Oktoberfest also turns out to be its last.
Larimer Associates, the real estate company that owns Oktoberfest as well as Larimer Square and numerous other properties (LoHi Steakbar, for example), revealed Monday that it plans to shut it down or sell it Oktoberfest. "It is financially viable, but it doesn't relate to our core business," says Larimer Associates marketing director Margaret Ebeling. "If someone wants to come forward and purchase the event, there is some real upside."
The fest, one of the largest and longest-running Oktoberfests in the United States, was started in 1969 by Larimer Square business owners Fred and Hertha Thomas, who bought a keg and sold cups of beer for fifty cents. Those were the days.
In 2007, Larimer Associates picked up its oompah loompah, its lager, its brats and its funny outfits and moved them all up the street to the Ballpark Neighborhood. But this year, Larimer Associates decided to get out of the Oktoberfest business.
Finding a buyer and coming up with a sale price will be a "matter of discussing earnings from last year and assets," Ebeling says. Events don't often change hands - they usually just end - so there aren't a lot of case studies, she explains.
If it is the final one, Oktoberfest will go out in style. "The stars aligned perfectly this year," says Visit Denver spokesman Rich Grant about the timing.
In fact, in what could be the most eagerly anticipated political toast since Barack Obama downed a Bud Light on the White House lawn, Mayor John Hickenlooper will have to choose which beer he uses to toast Oktoberfest, the Great American Beer Festival and the Denver Beer Fest when he visits the Wynkoop Brewing Company on September 17.
The Mayor will be kicking off all three beerstravaganzas since they all overlap; Oktoberfest runs September 18-20 and 25-27, GABF is September 24-26 and the Denver Beer Fest is September 17-27.
Although no one could fault him for pounding a pint from the brewery he co-founded, informed sources have suggested that the mayor may sip a Paulaner from Germany instead. Now, that's international teamwork.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.