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Officials disagree over Oktoberfest contract with city

With less than a month until Oktoberfest, the event’s board and the city of Mount Angel have still not reached an agreement for temporary use of city property and rights of way.

The contract was scheduled to be approved at the Aug. 4 Mount Angel City Council meeting, but Councilor Pete Wall, who is also on the Oktoberfest board, brought up issues with the contract, stating the Oktoberfest board would not agree to how it was written.

“Contracts are meant to involve two parties, but the language in this does not involve two parties,” he said. “That to me is not an agreement.”

Perhaps the most contested item in the contract, according to Oktoberfest President Chris Bischoff, was that it stated the city must be involved in Oktoberfest’s contracting with a third party for events outside the physical borders of the festival, like this year’s first-ever marathon.

“Logistically, it needs to be dealt with because these are streets that people aren’t used to being shut down; (if there’s a problem) the city is stuck,” Mayor Andy Otte reasoned as to why the item was needed in the contract. “If someone has a problem Monday morning (after the festival), who gets the call? It’s the city. The city can’t be encumbered by an agreement Oktoberfest makes with a third party.”

Additionally, other councilors stated that Oktoberfest had already broken its agreement with the city in making a $5,000 contribution toward a capital project, which, in this case, was repairing the gazebo located behind City Hall. The Oktoberfest board thought they could handle that in addition to a project at Kennedy High School, but Bischoff said it was too much.

“We do stuff for the community all the time,” Bischoff said at the council meeting. “Any project, whether it’s on city property or anywhere in the city, should be recognized. We feel we should get credit for that. That’s $5,000 that could go into the community.”

But councilors didn’t think the request to help with repairs to the gazebo was too much to ask, especially since the gazebo is used constantly during the four-day festival.

“The spirit of (that line item) was we wanted to show the community that we can come together and do something together,” Council President Kelly Grassman said.

“What needs to happen is for both parties to sit down and meet somewhere in the middle,” Grassman continued.

The contract between the city and Oktoberfest is a fairly new concept, having started just in 2011, even though Oktoberfest is in its 49th year as a festival. But the intergovernmental agreement is creating extra stress to the board, Bischoff said.

“To us, it’s not Oktoberfest and the city, it’s about Oktoberfest and the community,” he said. “We’re wearing out our board. We don’t make as much as we used to.”

The item will be discussed again at an Aug. 18 work session, then is set to be approved at the Sept. 2 council meeting, just a week before Oktoberfest begins.

In the meantime, Wall and City Administrator Eileen Stein are meeting with Oktoberfest representatives this week to work on an agreement that satisfies both parties.

“This is a defining event for Mount Angel, so it would be disastrous if the city and Oktoberfest could not reach an agreement,” Stein said.

Lindsay Keefer covers Hubbard, Mount Angel and St. Paul. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1193.




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