Will Oktoberfest Zinzinnati relocate to accommodate the Cincinnati Streetcar?

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is considering moving the location of this year's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati to avoid disrupting operations of the Cincinnati Streetcar.

The streetcar is scheduled to debut on Sept. 9.

Chamber spokesman Rich Walburg said Wednesday his organization is searching for alternative sites for the festival, which is scheduled for Sept. 16-18 and has been held on Fifth Street for nearly four decades.

“We are exploring many options to work in harmony with the streetcar,” Walburg said.

In Oktoberfest's current location, the streetcar’s route would cross the festival at the intersections of Fifth and Main and Fifth and Walnut streets.

The Chamber is weighing the move in an attempt to avoid using the Streetcar and Heritage Events Ordinance passed by Cincinnati City Council in March, Walburg said. That ordinance gives the Chamber and other event organizers the power to limit or halt streetcar operations for historic and established Downtown and Over-the-Rhine events along its route.

The Taste of Cincinnati, Findlay Market Opening Day Parade and Flying Pig Marathon also can alter streetcar operations, according to the ordinance.

The ordinance also states event organizers must submit requests to limit or halt streetcar operations 90 days before the respective events.

Walburg said the Chamber submitted a request to halt streetcar operations to City Manager Harry Black on June 13. The Chamber provided a copy of its request to WCPO.

The letter states that it is not the Chamber’s “intention to use the aforementioned halt of service” and that "we are working diligently to ensure both can co-exist. We are requesting it now, however, due simply to the 90-day notice requirement of the ordinance.”

The letter also states that the Chamber intends to update the city on its attempts to find a new location for Oktoberfest away from the streetcar's route no later than July 5.

Walburg said he could not specify when the Chamber would publicly announce whether or not the festival would relocate.

“As the letter states, ‘We are working diligently to ensure both can co-exist,” he said.

City manager Harry Black said Wednesday that he planned to meet with Oktoberfest organizers to discuss alternatives to relocation.

"The idea is to look at the streetcar as an asset that helps to enable the success of all of these events that are going to be occurring downtown," Black said. "The other options that we are pursuing are really good."

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