(Oct. 16, 2020) While numerous events have been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, one that will carry on is OCtoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 24.
At Sunset Park in downtown Ocean City from 1-4 p.m., attendees can taste a variety of local beers, purchase food from the Street Kitchen truck and enjoy music by Full Circle Duo.
To make the event safer, the beer festival will look much different than in the past. Attendees must register by Monday, Oct. 19 for contact tracing purposes.
Participants can buy either a 12-beer or a 24-beer table, rather than individual tickets, according to Ann Hillyer, CEO of Shore Craft Beer.
“The styles of beer are the same, so if you buy a 12-beer table, every half hour you get two different beers delivered to the table,” Hillyer said.
A 24-beer table will get double of the same beers as the 12-beer table. A 12-beer table costs $260 and a 24-beer table is $300.
Some participating breweries are Burley Oak, Evolution Craft Brewing, Tall Tales, Backshore Brewing, Crooked Hammock, Big Oyster Brewery and Blue Earl Brewing. Most breweries will have representatives on hand to talk with each table at the event.
Hillyer said that every half hour, a table will also get six additional tasters, so there are 18 different flavors. Some of those will include Hoop Tea from Backshore Brewing, mead from Buzz Meadery and a hard seltzer from Sinupuxent Brewing.
The beers will be delivered in cans or bottles for participants to pour on their own, while the tasters will be delivered in disposable cups.
Tables can have up to six people, and if a party has less than six, it will not be put together with another group. Attendees can bring home unopened cans or bottles of beer.
“It’s a 250-person maximum and when they get to the event, they tell us what their table number is and their name, we check them off the list and they go directly to their table,” Hillyer said. “We give them their bag, which will have their T-shirt, their pint glasses and different things in them.”
Before being seated, attendees will have their temperature taken. Each group will have a designated time to be seated, starting at 12:30 p.m.
There will be hand sanitizing stations and masks are required. Hillyer said the same rules for a restaurant apply at the festival – guests cannot eat or drink unless they are seated and may not take off their masks unless they are eating or drinking.
All attendees must be 21 and over.
For the food truck, attendees will have an order form to fill out and turn in to Street Kitchen. When the order is ready, Street Kitchen will call the group.
While at the festival or in advance, groups can also purchase tickets for a 30-minute cruise with OC Bay Hopper.
Tickets are in groups of four to five or four to six for $40-$50 depending on the seating selection. Participants will receive a beer while on the cruise.
“It’s an opportunity to enjoy the world class beauty that we have here with the world class beer,” Hillyer said.
For $15, people can buy a wristband that will give them special discounts at participating bars, restaurants and breweries all weekend, as well as a facemask that says ‘Will remove for Shore Craft Beer only.’ The wristband is also available for those not attending the festival.
Wristbands will be sold at the event, but Hillyer recommends buying them before so they can be mailed.
“The Princess Royale [on 91st Street] is having sort of a German Oktoberfest after our festival in their atrium,” Hillyer said. “They’ll give anybody wearing the wristband free pretzels and free sausages.”
The wristband will also get wearers a free appetizer at Evolution Craft Brewing in Salisbury.
Like past festivals, there will be hotel packages, but this year, the festival tickets are sold separately. Some participating hotels are the Clarion on 101st Street, Aloft on 45th Street, the Residence Inn near 61st Street and Dunes Manor on 29th Street.
Even with all the changes for this year’s festival, Hillyer is excited for all the breweries to come together.
“It’ll be the most fun thing to do in the entire mid-Atlantic region that weekend,” Hillyer said.
Proceeds from the festival will go to the Ocean City Development Corporation.
To buy tables and hotel packages, visit shorecraftbeerfest.com/.
Shore Craft Beer, the Ocean City Development Corporation and Salisbury University recently received a grant from the Rural Maryland Council to conduct research on tourism, craft beer and a sense of place to identify more local opportunities.