FCC Highlight Reel:
OKTOBERFEST REVIEW, PLUS
by Kirby Lindsay
Fremont Oktoberfest serves as the primary fundraiser for Fremont Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber depends upon these funds for the numerous projects, grants and events they support year ‘round.
So it may come as small surprise that the primary focus of the Fremont Chamber Board Meeting held September 30 involved a re-cap of Oktoberfest, held one week before. What will surprise some is that the Board still dealt with many other items.
The Chamber Board has 24 seats. Rarely ever have they had a full complement, and never have all current board members attended a single meeting. Yet, this large number of board members, and the vast variety of businesses they represent, may explain why the Chamber constantly has many irons in their fire as several pots burble on their back burners.
Jessica Vets, Executive Director for the Chamber, gave the report that the grant committee, in their last distribution, overspent their budget by $300. Their explanation? Too many worthwhile projects! The Board gained a consensus not to short next year’s recipients – to be distributed in January – but to cover the overage from another budget item.
Vets also reported that membership in the Chamber recently crested 200 (at 203) and, of those 40 are premier members (businesses that pay at a higher dues rate to receive added benefits.) Registration for the 2010 Walking Guide to Fremont opens soon (October 10), while the 2009 edition remains popular. As Vets explained, “the [hotel] concierges can’t get enough!” Finally, an ambitious plan to install a ‘Troll Cam’ (an internet-linked camera on the Troll) received front page coverage in Ballard News-Tribune so, as Vets sheepishly admitted, “we better actually do something with it.”
Phil Megenhardt, founder of Bold Hat Productions, began his report on this year’s Oktoberfest with thanks to the Board for volunteering, and roping in volunteers, to the ‘fest, then he distributed cookies and brownies. Megenhardt has said the event would come to a complete stop without volunteers to pour, especially on Saturday. At the end of his report he restated his theme, and pushed for “a year-round campaign for volunteers,” in the Chamber.
Megenhardt gave a “humble estimate,” as he called it, of this year’s Oktoberfest attendance at 15,000, and an approximate $42,000 raised for Chamber projects. While volunteers make it possible, Megenhardt and his staff noticed that 72% of those who signed up to help out actually showed up. They’ve already begun analysis, and asking no-shows why they bailed, to find out what went wrong, and what to do to avoid this problem in the future.
Megenhardt continually improves on the event – from tweaks to full-scale revamps. This year scanners at entrance gates “helped end fake tickets.” With the Microbrew Beer Garden working well, Megenhardt promised next year to focus on the “outdoor space.” The area before the gates worked best, he said, when held on the grassy area under the Aurora Bridge. He has considered lowering vendor prices, while others suggested soccer activities and/or putting down Astroturf.
Megenhardt will reach out to neighboring businesses, and anyone else, with comments or concerns about Oktoberfest, over the next weeks. Additionally, anyone who wants to participate can always attend a Fremont Chamber Board Meeting. They take place on the last Wednesday of each month (except December) at 8 a.m. at History House (790 North 34th).
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.