OTTUMWA — Everyone should be able to go to Oktoberfest.
Committee Chairman Jack Guiter said his group's members keep that philosophy in mind. So besides earning money for regional charities, the festival is meant to allow for anyone who can get there to have a good time.
"We're keeping the event a community event," Guiter said. "We want everyone to be able to attend. We work to keep prices reasonable, which is hard [because] our costs go up."
Guiter said it's not the Oktoberfest Committee's intention to "make a killing" on the famous brats and beer.
"Prices this year are pretty much the same as last year," he said.
Getting in the tent is free, listening to bands is free and so is lining up to watch the parade on Saturday.
While some traditions haven't been allowed to die, the committee tries to respond to visitor requests if it means trying something new and reasonable. Parents have told organizers that their youngest children, in some cases, don't want brats.
"This will be the first time Oktoberfest will offer hot dogs for sale all week," Guiter said.
They tried something new last year, too, and it worked out well, he said. They experimented with selling wine, especially Iowa label wines with a connection to fall or Oktoberfest.
"It was very successful. It went over very well," he said. "This year ... we'll add a couple more choices."
A couple new bands will perform, too, usually at night. But for the kind of band that marches, visitors will have to wake up pretty early Saturday morning. The parade usually draws miles and miles of school bands, floats and waving politicians weaving through downtown.
Overseeing the parade will be this year's grand marshal, Brad Little, who will be representing the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation.
"We normally have a grand marshal, and we do, but we wanted to recognize the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation for all they've given back to the community. You can't have an agency as the grand marshal, so Brad Little, their president, will be representing the foundation. Their philanthropy, and all they've done to support and better the community and the surrounding area as well ... we thought they should be recognized for what they do."
That's not all the committee does. They take note of things that actually need changing, then make the changes the following year. But those are small changes that Oktoberfest might appreciate but not really notice.
"It may not be visible to the public ... but you try to improve each year," he said.
This year Oktoberfest celebrates its 40th anniversary in Ottumwa.
— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark
Schedule of events (All events in the Market Street Parking Lot unless otherwise noted) Today 33rd Annual Rotary Club Chicken Barbeque - Oktoberfest Tent 4:30-7 p.m.
Wednesday Oktoberfest Tent open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tobin Garrett - DJ 4-6 p.m. Full Loaded - Budweiser Stage 6 p.m.-10 p.m. D&B Shows
Thursday Oktoberfest Tent open 11 a.m. to midnight German wines and beer tasting sponsored by Hy-Vee 4-6 p.m. Tobin Garrett - DJ 4-7 p.m. Jennifer Handling & Revolution - Budweiser Stage 7-11 p.m. D&B Shows - Wrist Band Night
Friday Oktoberfest Tent open 11 a.m. to midnight Tobin Garrett - DJ 4-5:30 p.m. Kiddie Parade (Washington Street/Main Street/Green Street) 6 p.m. (Rain location -- Quincy Place Mall). Sponsored by South Ottumwa Savings Bank The "Low"ly Brass 6-7:30 p.m. Burnin' Sensation - Budweiser Stage 8 p.m. to midnight D&B Shows
Saturday Oktoberfest Parade - downtown Ottumwa 10 a.m. Featuring The Parade of Bands Oktoberfest Tent open 11 a.m. to midnight "JR" Richards - Emcee/DJ 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Band Drum Line Competition 1 p.m. Presentation of band awards - Oktoberfest Tent 1:30 p.m. Presentation of Outstanding Senior Band Member 1:45 p.m. Starbound Karaoke - DJ & Karaoke open mic 2-5:30 p.m. The "Low"ly Brass 6-7:30 p.m. Sez Who - Budweiser Stage 8 p.m. to midnight D&B Shows Sunday D&B Shows - Wrist Band Day