BY DYKE HENDRICKSON STAFF WRITER
Newburyport Daily News
---- — One indication of a successful annual social event is the need to look for a larger venue the following year.
The Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry last year hosted an Oktoberfest at the Bartlet Mall. Tomorrow, it will hold another version, but this fall it will be at Cashman Park, which offers more space for guests and children’s activities.
It will run from noon to 6 p.m. Admission to the beer tent is $5 per person; attendees under 21 are free.
There are fees for beer, food, rides and games, and last year, this menu resulted in overflow crowds who appeared to enjoy themselves.
“Last year’s Oktoberfest was very successful,” said Ann Ormond, president of the Chamber.
“We had 1,000-plus people, and this year we moved the event to Cashman Park for more room for rides, band and food. Also, the view at Cashman Park is lovely and it should be a great day with sunny and cool weather.”
The event will feature a traditional beer garden under a tent with German food and assorted food vendors. The Oberlaendler Hofbrau Band will provide the music for the festivities.
Chamber officials call it a family-friendly day, and numerous rides have been slated for this year, including a Roaming Railroad, a merry-go-round, carnival games and other children’s activities.
Many adults appear to attend for the chance to sip German and/or craft beer, and to enjoy an outdoor event with music.
The city has a long history of enjoying beer. Historians say that as early as 1690, malt houses had been active on Ordway’s Lane, now Market Street, Greenleaf’s Lane, now State Street; and Chandler’s Lane, now Federal Street.
In 1785, Robert Laird, a Scotsman, came to Newburyport and, in company with James Ferguson, “established himself in business as a brewer of ale, beer and porter,” according to records in municipal archives.
Laird advertised, “The subscriber informs the public that he has begun the malting and brewing business again opposite Somersby’s Landing (on the waterfront). Gentlemen who wish to export any of this porter may have it put up in the best manner, in good new barrels and warranted.”
Along with numerous rum distilleries, breweries thrived in Newburyport in the 18th and 19th centuries, historians say.
In recent years, the interest in craft beers — some of them imported from Germany — has increased.
Two breweries are scheduled to open in Newburyport within the coming year. And numerous bars and restaurants have expanded their offerings of craft beers.
The Grog, for instance, offers 32 different kinds of craft beer. And Joseph Leone, who plans to open a restaurant at 38-40 Merrimac St., said that his new venue would offer 100 varieties.
Beer drinking isn’t the only feature of this Oktoberfest, of course.
Children’s events draw many families. But it does appear that the combination of beer, music and events for the whole family has struck a cord with many residents.
Roger Fuller of Newburyport, who attended last year at the Mall, said he will been in attendance at Cashman Park.
“It was a fun atmosphere,” said Fuller, a retired teacher. “It was a beautiful day, there were activities for the little kids and beer, food and music in the tent for adults.
“On a sunny fall day, it was a great combination.”
Chamber officials say this Oktoberfest, whose lead sponsor is TD Bank, will be held rain or shine.