Oktoberfest organizers trying to un-cancel event
By Kevin Keen. CREATED Aug 8, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Un-mark your calendars. A number of Tucson traditions are canceled this year. And you can now add another mainstay event to the list -- sort of. Why is this all happening?
Organizers originally canceled next month's Oktoberfest in Tucson. They said the multi-day event needed to relocate from Hi Corbett Field because the University of Arizona had the space.
Oktoberfest Charities President Tom Hogan explained the group wanted to move the festival to Rillito Downs but couldn’t get enough sponsors to pay for the higher costs of that place. They canceled the event.
The group's website is offline.
“It's very important to have financial backing because it's an expensive event,” Hogan said.
Also called off this year: St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church’s Greek Festival. A fire ravaged the church and organizers couldn't find another space that'd work. They hope it'll be back next year.
And goodbye Taste of Tucson. That's an event more than a decade old showcasing local restaurant foods and wines.
“We just wanted to make it the most premiere event of its kind here in town,” said Rocco DiGrazia, president of Tucson Originals, which organizes that event. “We thought that if we couldn't do the best job possible, we were just going to let it lapse for a year.”
DiGrazia, owner of Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria, said the event would return.
Finally, organizers have ended the Thunder in the Desert powwow held around around New Year's.
What's going on here?
There is no single reason for all the cancellations.
But most organizers told KGUN9 News it's about sponsors. Tents, staff and equipment cost a lot, and businesses and organizations have historically stepped up to help. But donors can't keep up.
“When you see a growing number of events and a limited amount of money available for sponsorship, you're going to see some events that may not be able to operate,” said Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of Visit Tucson.
DeRaad added the number of events in and around the city has reached a “point of saturation.”
“There's definitely fewer sponsorship dollars and that's probably a sign of the times,” Hogan said.
But Hogan added there’s new hope. Thursday afternoon, organizers revaluated the cancellation.
“Why don't we just move it downtown?” asked David Slutes, event chair of Oktoberfest and entertainment director at Hotel Congress.
“It looks to me as if it could be a wonderful re-imagination of the Oktoberfest thing,” Slutes said, “and a very exciting part of downtown.”
The team is in early stages of planning. Slutes has “high confidence” Oktoberfest will live on in a different form this year -- possibly part of a 2nd Saturdays Downtown event.
If you’d like to help, contact Hogan at 891-5480.