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Northern Kentucky communities cancel Oktoberfest celebrations; bars and restaurants forced to adapt

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Posted at 8:00 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 09:12:33-04

Oktoberfest celebrations in Newport and Covington are canceled this year, and that means some Northern Kentucky bars and restaurants could miss out on business.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati will be a scaled-down celebration, but bars are still planning to capitalize on the occasion.

“Oktoberfest for us is everything,” Hofbrauhaus associate general manager Gary Acton said.

It was on tap to be a big deal for the restaurant. The German-themed establishment was planning its annual party that accounts for 20% of its business – then COVID-19 forced the bar to change its tune.

“The tradition of people gathering around together, the clinking of the glasses together, the dancing around together, the parades, our Oktoberfest celebration this year has had to change," Athon said.

It came as no surprise to people when Newport Oktoberfest was called off and Braxton Brewing said it would not take up the Covington celebration this year.

"Every day is different during this pandemic,” Athon said. “Our usual norms and expectations have gone out the window."

Rich’s Proper Food and Drink in Covington is adapting their business model as well.

"It's an unfortunate victim of what we're facing right now,” owner and general manager Bill Whitlow said. “We've seen a lot of things get canceled this year."

He hopes Oktoberfest Zinzinnati will draw patrons who want to take part in the celebrations without the crowds.

"People still want an excuse to celebrate,” Whitlow said. “They still want to feel normalized."

Hofbrauhaus is trying to keep the tradition alive by live-streaming the chicken dance next Saturday.

Several bars will be having specials that weekend to draw what business they can.