For the second year in a row, Oktoberfest Columbia has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The popular event was scheduled to take place at the Incarnation Lutheran Church on Devine Street from October 8-10, but was canceled.
COVID-19 cases on the rise again in South Carolina due to the highly contagious delta variant, dashing organizers plan to “Willkommen Back !!” Columbia’s Original Oktoberfest.
“We were moving forward after canceling last year and were really excited about this year’s festival,” event organizer Sarah Sawicki told The State. “But things changed and we didn’t feel safe. We didn’t feel good to have a safe festival. “
The delta variant was the tipping point that prompted organizers to cancel the festival, according to Sawicki.
“That, and half of our state is unvaccinated,” Sawicki said.
As in 2020, the organizers canceled the event well in advance. This was done to inform all food, drink and entertainment vendors as early as possible and let them adjust to the change.
“We are fortunate that the income from the festival does not contribute to the results of the church,” said Sawicki.
The Oktoberfest at Devine Street Church featured live music, authentic German food including scallops and wursts, and of course a variety of beers. Between 8,000 and 10,000 people will attend each year, Sawicki estimated.
While the Oktoberfest event takes place outdoors, mainly behind the church, Sawicki noted that it was “a festival of food and drink.” And these are things that you can’t do very well while wearing a mask.
“It’s very disappointing. It’s a waste, but it’s not worth the health risk. We don’t want to be a super spreader event, ”Sawicki said. “This event is not about beer, but about the community. “
So far, no date for an Oktoberfest event next year has been set, but it should take place the second full weekend in October, according to Sawicki.
“Hope to see you in 2022,” the post said on the event’s website.
Although this is the second year in a row that Columbia’s Oktoberfest event has been canceled, it is not the only popular gathering to have been affected by COVID-19.
Some of the biggest annual events in Colombia and the Midlands in 2020 have been canceled, changed or held exclusively online due to the pandemic. The South Carolina State Fair, the famous Hot New Year, the Columbia Greek Fest, the Okra Strut in Irmo, the Craftsmen’s Christmas Classic Art & Craft Festival, the Rosewood Crawfish Festival, the Indie Grits Film Festival, the Columbia’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Five Points, Camden’s Carolina Cup Obstacle Course, Bubbie’s Jewish Food Festival, Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic and Lexington Wine Walk are among the other notable events that have been affected.
With the exception of Oktoberfest Columbia, none of the other upcoming events planned for the remainder of the year have been canceled.
But that could change as COVID-19 cases increase.
Tuesday the South Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Control reported 2,204 new cases of coronavirus, the ninth consecutive day with at least 2,000 new positive tests reported.
South Carolina has recorded more than 645,000 cases (confirmed and probable) of the coronavirus and 9,992 deaths since the start of the pandemic. With 45% of the state’s population fully vaccinated, health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against COVID to help limit the spread of the virus and protect themselves.
Hospitals statewide are reporting a total of 8,920 inpatient beds are currently in use and are at 78.6% of capacity, according to DHEC. An additional 77.2% of intensive care beds are in use, 27% of which are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
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