Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival has been bringing keg-tapping, keg-rolling, concerts, and parades to Waterloo Region for over fifty years. It’s a staple in our community, reliably delivering Bavarian food, drink, and culture every fall. But behind the scenes, planners of the yearly festival need to be able to hop, pivot, and spin like a Schwaben Dancer as they navigate special anniversaries, financial losses, and, most recently, a pandemic.

KW Oktoberfest Inc. consistently delivers Gemuetlichkeit, no matter what they’re up against

Alfred Lowrick, the Oktoberfest President from 2015 – 2016 and the Executive Director for the past four years, has seen his fair share of Oktoberfest challenges. In 2018, Oktoberfest celebrated its 50th Anniversary which resulted in a festival three times its normal size. Then came what Alfred calls “the hangover year” where the Oktoberfest team had to confront the excesses of the previous year and come to terms with the fact that they wouldn’t be able to deliver a festival of that magnitude every year.

They performed a strategic review to plan the path forward, unaware that COVID had a plan of its own. When it became clear early last year that Oktoberfest would be forced to go online, “a lot of people thought that we had very little to do,” Alfred says. “They thought running a virtual program should be easy. But we’d been doing things the same way for a long time, and it was very challenging to switch gears and do something brand new that we had no experience with.”

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Onkel Hans (pictured with Tante Frieda) is the Official Mascot and Goodwill Ambassador of KW Oktoberfest

This year is proving to be just as demanding, as the Oktoberfest team needs to make decisions about this year’s venues. But the team is determined to deliver as many Oktoberfest traditions as possible, with a blend of virtual and in-person events.

“Our vision for this year is starting to crystallize,” Alfred says. “It’ll be very similar to last year with virtual programs, Opening Ceremonies and a CTV Parade, the support-local restaurant program, a golf tournament, Women of the Year, the Onkel Hans Food Drive; programs we can generate internally. We’ll need to keep thinking about how to build up the numbers again next year when we anticipate things will be more open.”

Unfortunately, COVID is not the only hurdle Oktoberfest has faced in the last few months. This year, Oktoberfest moved from their iconic office on Benton Street, to the former Bank of Montreal building on King Street, right next door to The Museum. In the middle of selling the building on Benton, Alfred discovered that his IT Support Manager wouldn’t be in the area to assist them on-site during the move. Alfred immediately picked up the phone and called Fibernetics.

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Each year at the Opening Ceremonies, the keg tapping signifies the start of the festival

NEWT provided new technology and new friendships

“We’d already had a long-standing relationship with Fibernetics in that NEWT provided the internet and voice services through the building on Benton Street,” says Alfred. “Our move from Benton St. to King St. needed to be project-planned and supported. So, when I found out our technology partner wouldn’t be on-site, I called Fibernetics for help. I was introduced to Francisco, the President of Fibernetics, and we hit it off right away. He’s a great guy and he let us know that with the change in our IT support, he wouldn’t let things fall. And he lived up to that.”

We went through a technical conversion; there was lots of drama behind the scenes and there was a calming of the waters the minute Fibernetics stepped in and helped us. Alfred Lowrick, Executive Director, KW Oktoberfest Inc.

Alfred says that “Fibernetics facilitated the infrastructure switch from a server-based to a Cloud-based environment and gave us exactly what we needed. The guidance that Fibernetics provided made it easy to understand the pros and cons of the new environment and helped make our decision.”

Alfred was surprised when Francisco himself came in with an assistant to help get the new cabling in place. “It’s always surprising when an executive shows up to do hands-on work, but it’s obvious that Francisco genuinely loves to do it. He was also very willing to take the time to explain everything to me. I have a background in HR, not IT,” explains Alfred, “but I still like to understand how everything works, what the nomenclature is, how everything is integrated. And since then, Francisco continues to provide help and support whenever we need it.”

With some details of this year’s festival still up in the air, Alfred takes comfort in the fact that “Fibernetics provides meaningful cost support for our very lean budgets. At the end of the day, I can’t speak highly enough about the organization. Fibernetics supported us through a very difficult transition and the trust in the relationship that was built during that time is probably the most valuable asset to me. Fibernetics is a technical organization, but it’s supported by strong people who really understand their clients’ needs and are willing to do what it takes to support them. Above all, the interpersonal connections gained, and the friendships created go far beyond just the business partnership.”

One of the many joys of my work at Fibernetics is meeting the people of our community and using our network to support their ventures. Oktoberfest is an integral part of this community’s identity, and I’m happy we were able to assist them through this unusual time. I wish Alfred and the entire KW Oktoberfest team many successful years and look forward to an ongoing friendship with this great festival. Francisco Dominguez, Managing Partner and President, Fibernetics
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NEWT is looking forward to this year’s Oktoberfest when we’ll raise a stein to our friendship with this incredible festival. PROST!