Many in Waunakee look forward to the games, the oompah bands and German beer and food at Wauktoberfest each September, but physical distancing restrictions to protect against the COVID virus make it impossible to do it together in person this year.
But the Wauktoberfest committee has found a way to celebrate the annual tradition safely, complete with all of the food and fun. At the same time, participants will support Waunakee area businesses who have been hit during this pandemic.
“We had met earlier, in the late spring, and had to make the difficult decision, just like with other events,” said Jenni Schmitt of the Waukotoberfest committee. Considering safety and the Madison and Dane County Public Health department criteria, the board canceled the annual event this year.
Schmitt had an idea – what if Waukotoberfest’s ingredients could be packaged and sold to families with proceeds going to those local businesses and service clubs?
She contacted local business who seemed excited about the prospect.
Thirteen businesses and one service club agreed, and the Wauktoberfest To Go Packs were launched. They are ready for people to order by Aug. 17 and available for pickup Sept. 10 for Wauktoberfest weekend, so in the Waunakee area, people can celebrate together at home.
Each of the packs will include German Wieners from Fred’s Village Park, German style beers from Neil’s Liquor and the Lone Girl Brewing Company, Edelweiss wine from Drumlin Ridge Winery, beer bread mix from Simply Unique, sauerkraut from Piggly Wiggly, Whoopie Pies from Guilty Café, cheese spread from Rex’s, German pretzels from Clausen’s European Baker, German festival hats from Ooh La La Boutique and German themed socks from Ciao Bella Boutique, and more, like Wauktoberfest Wiener Dog Logo masks from Trending Now, bags from MinuteMan Press, pumpkins from Waunakee Rotary Club, and Octoberfest beads from Vacation Designers.
“I think the whole purpose was to give the community a little fun, to keep the spirit of Wauktoberfest going and help the businesses and clubs,” Schmitt said.
The Knights of Columbus and the Lions Club who run the food tent will also receive a portion of the proceeds.
The to-go packs will also include a playlist of the bands like Pat McCurdy and the Cheap Shots that perform at Wauktoberfest, adding music to the mix, and the games will go on, though physically distant.
“We hope families in their backyards have that sauerkraut eating contest,” Schmitt said.
While families may be in their own backyards, they can celebrate together online. The committee is planning Wauktoberfest toasts and other virtual events, such as a talk on brewing German style beer. The activities will be posted on the website, Wauktoberfest.com, prior to the weekend. And they can check in together and post on the Facebook page.
Those wishing to participate will need to order the Wauktoberfest To Go Packs online prior to by Aug. 17.
“The important part is to pre-purchase,” Schmitt said, adding that this will help minimize the financial risk to businesses.
“We’ve got some people who are looking to have a little fun with it,” Schmitt said. “I can see people getting dressed and enjoying the fun of it.”
Visit www.wauktoberfest.com for more details and to order the to-go packs.