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AUDIO: RiverParks eliminates Oktoberfest committees, will stop sale of pitchers
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AUDIO: RiverParks eliminates Oktoberfest committees, will stop sale of pitchers

AUDIO: RiverParks eliminates Oktoberfest committees, will stop sale of pitchers
Photo Credit: Russell Mills

AUDIO: RiverParks eliminates Oktoberfest committees, will stop sale of pitchers

Big changes have come to Tulsa's Oktoberfest, beginning with its entire organizational structure and extending down to how beer will be sold during the festival.

In an exclusive KRMG investigation, we've learned RiverParks has assumed control of Oktoberfest entirely.

[HEAR OUR SPECIAL REPORT]

Gone are the 64-ounce pitchers, along with the executive committee and working committee which have run the festival for decades.

RiverParks stepped in to help manage the festival after Oktoberfest took a loss of about $60,000 in 2010.

Tonja Carrigg with RiverParks says they realized changes had to be made.

"The way the festival had been run up to that time was not successful, the model was not sustainable," she told KRMG.

"Moving things over to RiverParks Authority has caused some operational changes," she continued. "One of those has been that the atmoshpere is not the party atmosphere that it had been, and that's what -- prudently -- had to take place for the festival to continue."

But Sigmund Huhulski, who helped build the committees that ran the festival for decades, says their organization wasn't about the party, it was about family, and a sense of pride in accomplishment.

This Spring, when RiverParks decided to get rid of the working and executive committees, it was the last straw for many of the longtime volunteers, he says.

"We didn't like the fact that RiverParks was making all the decisions. We didn't like the fact that we were no longer able to run the festival ourselves. Now, we did have a financial problem and RiverParks did run it the next two years and ran it very well, but as they went beyond just taking care of managing the sponsorship and administrative facts and went ahead into managing the operations as well, and dictating the operations, a lot of us felt it was no longer a festival to be with."

He laments the fact that Oktoberfest will no longer sell the pitchers, saying it will make beer sales much less efficient.

But Carrigg says they made the decision after consultation with ABLE and Tulsa police.

They will sell beer only in 16-ounce cups, though they do plan to also sell commemorative steins which they hope will serve as a keepsake and also cut down on the number of plastic cups used.

Another major change -- volunteers will no longer have access to on-site parking.

Carrigg believes the changes are positive, and more focused on the patrons' enjoyment of the festival.

Huhulski and others say they'll miss the old way of doing things.

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