When was the last time something got cheaper and better?
That’s what D.G. Yuengling & Sons is hoping to do with this year’s Oktoberfest celebration at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.
The Pottsville-based brewer has signed on to be the presenting sponsor, making the event free to the public.
In the festival’s three previous years, the event had a $10 admission for adults and $3 for children under 12.
The festival also exclusively sold Yuengling beer.
Now, the festival will feature a variety of Pennsylvania-brewed beers with Yuengling serving as the host.
“Some people questioned the career move,” quipped Jen Holtzman, marketing manager for Yuengling. “But, we wanted to open it up. We’d rather be the presenting sponsor of a great festival … than the only beer served.”
She said that while the festival saw decent numbers, with more than 20,000 people attending each year, it was hard to compete with the other free events that ArtsQuest puts on at the site.
She said by making it free, and changing the format to include a focus on Pennsylvania beer, organizers hope to broaden the appeal and ultimately increase Yuengling’s brand awareness.
Holtzman said the overall theme will be very “Pennsylvania Dutch.”
There will be a new craft brewers’ village presented by the Brewers of Pennsylvania at PNC Plaza at SteelStacks on both weekends. In addition, the festival is adding additional pairing experiences featuring German food and beverages.
Holtzman said Yuengling has grown so much in recent years that some have forgotten that it’s still just a local, hometown, Pennsylvania brewery.
It’s her hope that sponsoring an event such as Oktoberfest will remind everyone that the company’s roots remain strong in Pennsylvania.
ArtsQuest officials are excited about making Oktoberfest a free event.
“When Yuengling approached us with the idea of transforming Oktoberfest into a free event for our community, we thought it fit in perfectly with our mission, as well as our programming, about 65 percent of which is actually free to attend,” said Kassie Hilgert, who was named CEO of the arts organization this month. “Removing the admission fee at Oktoberfest will no doubt allow even more people to enjoy this unique experience and festival.”
Oktoberfest will be held Oct. 3-5 and 10-12.