Hickory, North Carolina is known throughout the world for its furniture making and talented craftspeople, but it’s also a great destination complete with large community events and activities for all ages. The Hickory Motor Speedway is a must for any racing fan, and it has featured a variety of NASCAR sanctioned races since 1951, earning the nickname “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars.” Fall activities such as attending the Hickory Oktoberfest and leaf-peeping at Bakers Mountain Park are a must for every visitor.
Hickory’s Oktoberfest has been the city’s premier fall event for the last 30 years, and it will take place October 13-15 in downtown Hickory. This year’s event will feature continuous live music on four stages by regional music performers including On the Border, Nantucket, and Michael Miller. Two beer gardens will sell beers from around the world to patrons of age, and food vendors will sell traditional German foods like brats and Bavarian pastries, plus a variety of festival fare. The Kidsfest area is ideal for all ages and contains face painting, carnival rides, swings, and more. More than 100 vendors will participate in a juried arts and crafts show and they will sell everything from paintings to handmade swings. With a course highlighting the downtown area, the Oktoberfest Footrace offers a one-block fun run and 5K, with proceeds going to four hospices in the area. ResortsandLodges.com interviewed Connie Kincaid, Executive Director of the Hickory Downtown Development Association to learn more about this fall celebration.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
CK: 2017 marks the 32nd anniversary of Hickory Oktoberfest.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
CK: Attendance numbers vary depending on the weather. Typically we host 100,000 people during the three-day festival.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
CK: There is something for everyone at Oktoberfest! There will be amusement rides, carnival games, and face painters for families and kids. We also have two beer gardens for those of age, and everyone will love the four stages of live entertainment.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
CK: Hickory has deep German roots. Oktoberfest is a celebration of Hickory's German heritage.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
CK: Attendees can listen to live music, shop at more than 100 vendors, ride amusement rides, contribute to the Castle of Cans, and run in the Oktoberfest Foot Race.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
CK: Our guest appearances vary... Ronald McDonald makes appearances in the Kidsfest Area, and we have live performances by The Ultimate Eagles Tribute, John Nemeth, and, of course, several sets from the Foothills Oompah Band.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
CK: The Oktoberfest Food Court offers a wide selection of foods from Bratwurst to Bavarian pastries. Plus, Downtown Hickory has a variety of restaurants within the festival footprint, if you're interested in sitting down to enjoy a meal.
RAL: Our travelers seek out unique and boutique accommodations. Where can they find these in your area?
CK: There are two lodging providers within walking distance of the festival: Stay Here Instead and Flats on First. Travelers can go to www.HickoryMetro.com to find all of the local hotels and their rates.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
CK: In 2016, Oktoberfest Castle of Cans donated 17,411 lbs of food to feed the hungry in Catawba County. Proceeds from the Oktoberfest Footrace go to hospice and palliative care in four counties.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
CK: The Oktoberfest is perfect for meeting new people, tasting locally brewed Oktoberfest beer, and sampling authentic German foods. Our event is the ideal opportunity for visitors to create unforgettable memories of their time in downtown Hickory.
For more information about the Hickory’s Oktoberfest, please visit the event website.