Oktoberfest Organizers Decide To Close Early Saturday

Saturday, October 21st 2017, 7:13 pm
By: News On 6

Organizers have decided to close early Saturday at 9 p.m. due to a severe weather threat. 

Ten years ago, storms injured dozens at Oktoberfest. More than 40 people were hurt after winds brought down one of the tents.
Organizers said they chose to shut down at 9 p.m. instead of 1 a.m. to give people time to exit safely.

10/20/2017 Related Story: Oktoberfest Organizers Prepare For High Winds, Remember Past Destruction

Since there are so many tents, organizers have to keep watch on the weather. Organizers said they are following local and national weather services to stay ahead of any threats. 

Earlier on Saturday, the weather was cool and the festival grounds were packed with people. Even though they were there to have fun, some said they were still following the threat of severe weather.

Jacob Bullis tries to come every year. He said any time of the year, it's a toss-up for severe weather.  

"I understand there's supposed to be some storms," said attendee Jacob Bullis. 

He said coming out for another year of fun is worth the risk.

"The game plan is to get back into a tent and fill this beer back up," he said, hoisting his stein. 

A few people already at the festival said they are watching the weather but said they wouldn't ever have fun if they let a threat run them off.

"That's part of being in Oklahoma," Bullis said. "You just have to be ready for that. I think these tents are ready for 100 mph winds, so I think we're pretty safe unless a tornado comes through."

While most peoples' biggest concern centered around the long lines, organizers, police and other emergency crews kept watch on more than just the crowds. With the updated weather reports, they decided to shut down four hours early.

"Closing at 9 would give us and our patrons and volunteers and staff plenty of time to exit the park without rushing and give them the time to get where they want to be out of the wind and rain."

Until the rain comes falling down, Oktoberfest is where Jimmy Larimore and his friend Colton Mixson want to be.

"As long as there's not lightning or thunder, we are gonna sing it til the break of dawn," Larimore said.

"We'll keep having fun til they tell us to go," Mixson agreed.

Though things got cut short Saturday, gates open back up Sunday at noon for the last day of Oktoberfest.