MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – For years, the ocean front merchants association put on Oktoberfest near the Myrtle Beach boardwalk. This year, that will not happen. City officials say the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation will plan downtown events for the time being.
News13 spoke with a general manager whose business is a part of the Ocean Merchants Association. He fears the change will cost oceanfront businesses a lot of money.
Gil Reibenbach is the general manager of 8th Ave Tiki Bar and Grill. He’s in a prime location and says Oktoberfest was a big opportunity for the bar.
“It’s something we look forward to, to help us prepare for the off season.”
Not having Oktoberfest, could make things tricky in the cold winter months.
“We use every big occasion we can to profit as much as possible so we can live comfortably in the off season and stay open.”
City spokesman Mark Kruea said there was nothing wrong with Oktoberfest, it’s just time for a change.
“Things have a lifespan. We think a seafood festival was sort of a natural event for the area. It will connect well with families, it’ll be a family friendly event, a kid friendly event.”
We asked Kruea if family friendly events meant no alcohol. He said not necessarily.
“You can have moderate alcohol in what we would consider a family friendly event. With Oktoberfest it had become more of a grownup party, it wasn’t a kid friendly event.”
Reibenbach says he’s open to change but he said people live in and come to Myrtle Beach for a reason.
“This town is built off bars and restaurants. People know Myrtle Beach as a spring break destination and party destination and also a getaway. You take away the stuff they come for here, they’re known for, people are going to start looking at other places to go.”
Kruea says the city certainly doesn’t want to lose visitors, just appeal to more people.
“We’re not anti-alcohol or anti fun. We want it to be fun the whole family can enjoy.”
Reibenbach said Oktoberfest or not, they have to find a way to keep the lights on and the beer cold.
“Taking it away will hurt. We just have to figure out a way to do it ourselves.”
The seafood festival will happen October 15th and will have beer and wine. Kruea said the city will likely work with O.M.A. in the future. He also maintained that the city and OMA still have a cordial relationship.