ABOUT DOUGLAS OKTOBERFEST
The Douglas Oktoberfest draws more people to the area than any other local event. Each year, the downtown street fair is attended by thousands who have permanently marked the Douglas Oktoberfest on their calendars. The Douglas Oktoberfest continues to be a huge success and continues to get bigger and better each year. With local media offering high praise to the diversity of the activities and quality of the entertainment offered, you won't be disappointed with a visit the best fall festival in the Blackstone Valley region.
Vendors line both sides of Main Street offering crafts, food, games, and unique displays that keep the crowds occupied until dusk. Throughout the day, entertainment from singers, bands, choral groups, dance routines, and variety shows captivate audiences. Rides and games are prominently displayed on the church lawn allowing easy access by families with small children. The Huge Slide, moonwalk, train, and obstacle course are always a great hit with our younger citizens. The cash cube, filled with generous prizes, is an established favorite. The Oktoberfest celebration also provides a forum for local non-profits to raise funds in a way that's fun for all. Proceeds from many food booths, games, childrens' activities, and more go to support local community groups.
THE HISTORY OF OKTOBERFEST IN DOUGLAS
In the early to mid-1980s the second Congregation Church on Main Street began hosting an annual fall “yard-sale” event on the big lawn they have in front of the church. Typically held in late September/Early October, the event drew a fairly large crowd to the area. Soon after noting its success, the Douglas Historical Society began concurrently hosting a similar “yard-sale” type event with donated items from the public. The sales were always held on a Saturday. With the surrounding streets open to traffic, there was considerable congestion in the downtown Douglas area, especially around the corner of Depot and Main Streets.
In the mid to late-1980s, a small number of food vendors were added to the mix, selling fall favorites like hot dogs, candy apples, hot cider, and apple fritters. Small vendor booths began to replace the yard-
sale tables on the church lawn, and the Douglas Historical Society began selling homemade soups, sandwiches, cookies, cakes and other baked goods out of the E.N. Jenckes Store Museum.
By early 1990s the event had grown to the point where more controlled planning was needed to deal with the potential crowd and its impact on the downtown area. This was accomplished when the Douglas Board of Selectmen appointed the first official members to the Douglas Oktoberfest Committee around the spring of 1990. The Committee was effective and the event enjoyed some continued success but remained small and centered on the Main Street/Depot Street intersection. A few consecutive years of cold, rainy weather had an impact on the event. Attendance and funding suffered as a result. Interest dropped and the committee disbanded. This resulted in no events being held in 1994 and 1995.
In the spring of 1996, a new team of members sought appointment to the committee and the event was revived. Though small at first, the event steadily grew. Each successful year, the event drew greater and greater attendance. With the increased interest, the committee continued to add live entertainment, games for adults, rides and activities for children, and more food and wares vendors. Local non-profits began using the event for showcasing their organizations, recruitment, and fundraising.
Eventually, Oktoberfest outgrew the small confines of the Second Congregational Church Lawn and required the closing of Main Street for safety reasons.
In 2000, the layout of the event was re-designed. Rides and games were moved from behind the library and placed on the big church lawn. Vendors were placed along the length of Main Street, providing easier access to their wares. The Main Stage, hosting live entertainment, was placed in the street as the centerpiece of the event. The event no longer resembled a crowded yard-sale, but took “fall festival feel” similar to the Brimfield and Woodstock fairs.
Over time, the increasingly popular event expanded to include Pleasant and Depot Streets. Additional entertainment stages were added at Cook and Cottage Streets.
Today, the event hosts 4 stages of live entertainment, a Beer Garden serving craft brews, an average of 90 vendors, a variety of foods and baked items from local groups, a midway of rides and games, a train ride, a petting zoo, Wiener dog races, antique cars, and new and interesting surprises each year.
The Douglas Oktoberfest consistently draws over 10,000 guests from all over the Blackstone Valley area each
year rain or shine. Thanks to the work of the committee and support of the community, the Douglas Oktoberfest has gained a reputation for great entertainment, tasty food, and a day of fun. It continues to be a festival that the community looks forward to year after year.
THE DOUGLAS OKTOBERFEST FESTIVAL PLANNING COMMITTEE IS:
Tony St. Pierre - Chairman
Mary St. Pierre
MaryLynn Dube - Honorary
Dave St. George - Honorary
We are always in search of people who can contribute to the event. If interested in joining the committee or volunteering at the event, click the button below and send us a message.