Return of tradition: Downtown Oktoberfest

Story by Selah Wheeler – Staff Reporter

 Despite the difficulties of the last couple of years, the city came together to support local artists and small businesses this past weekend, as Lee’s Summit held its first Oktoberfest festival since before the pandemic.

   According to those who attended the event this year, Covid-19 had little impact on how Oktoberfest was run. Visitors could hang out with friends and family in an exciting environment, and get back some of the ‘normal’ that the community craves.

   “It really did feel, like, very normal,” Georgia Huntsinger, senior, said. “I thought a lot of people would just not come because of Covid, but it was really busy, and everyone was so friendly and happy to see each other. It was fun.”

   Oktoberfest was a success this year for sure. Families, teens, adults, and kids of all ages could find something to interest them. From shops to rides to live music, there was no lack of entertainment.

   “It was very fun. There [was] lots of food, lots of people. It was very social. There were a lot of rides, and yeah. It was just a fun time,” Marco Meade, senior, said.

   For some, like Huntsinger, Oktoberfest has been a tradition for years. She recalled that she had gone almost every year since she was young, and the absence of the festival for the last couple of years increased her excitement and anticipation for this year’s event.

   “That used to be such an exciting part of, like, living in Lee’s Summit, was Oktoberfest and Downtown Days,” Huntsinger states. “Those were things I really loved. And so, since we hadn’t had that in the last couple years, I was really excited to go this year.”

   For others, Oktoberfest was a brand new experience. They never knew what it was like pre-pandemic, but still enjoyed their visit and most plan to go again. David Green, senior, was one of the first-time attendees, and he spoke on his time there.

   “I mean, just hanging out with friends was really nice,” Green said. “The one ride we rode on…The Ring of Fire or something. Yeah, that was terrifying, but it was really fun.”

   It was also Meade’s first time attending the festival, and he agrees that the event is iconic and exciting, sure to have something for everyone. He particularly liked the unique trinkets he found in the market, and was a fan of the band that played through the night.

   “They had a pretty big setup, and it was pretty loud music, and it was…cool to watch,” Meade said. “Next year I will be excited and ready for it.”

   Whether to uphold the tradition of the festival or to discover a new venue to explore with friends, Oktoberfest is a big part of life in Lee’s Summit. Overall, the community was glad that the event was brought back this year.  

Photo by Austin Wong