TAMPA — Nicol Winkler always strives to make “gemütlichkeit” — the German word for “coziness” — the focus of Oktoberfest Tampa.
Guests can bring their kids and their pets, play games and enjoy authentic German music, food and beer, Winkler said.
“It is the heart and soul of any Oktoberfest,” said Winkler, who co-founded Tampa’s version of the annual celebration with her husband, Adam, four years ago. “We really want to entertain everybody here. It’s not just about getting some beer and popping down and calling it good.”
Thousands of people came to the festival this year at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park downtown. The celebration kicked off Friday night and continues today.
Winkler, who was wearing lederhosen with the rest of the Oktoberfest staff, estimated this year’s festival would attract more than last year’s 8,000 attendees.
“We try to get bigger and better every year,” she said.
Festival-goers packed into the park Saturday afternoon, sampling beer and food and playing games like Carry the Wench, tug of war and barrel rolling. Some competed in tricycle races and the stein hoist.
Sarah Van Blaricum said she saw the event online and wanted to come see for herself what it was all about.
“I thought, ‘Why not?” she said, beer in hand. “It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday.”
Rick Rocag also thought it would be something fun to do.
“I like the German, authentic music,” he said. “A lot of times you come to these festivals and they’re playing rock and roll. I like the authenticity of it.”
Oktoberfest Tampa will continue until 6 p.m. today. Admission is $10. Half-liters of beer cost $5 and 1-liter beers cost $10.
For more information and to see a list of available beers, go to www.oktoberfesttampa.com.