Oktoberfest returns after two years, impacts local small businesses

Published: Oct. 16, 2022 at 11:24 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Panama City Beach Oktoberfest made its return to Aaron Bessant Park for the first time since 2019, due to the pandemic.

“We had over 1,000 kids under the age of 12-years-old here, so it’s been a great weekend of family-fun action,” Grant Wittstruck, marketing coordinator for the event, said.

Event representatives said the local economy was also impacted in a positive way.

“For economic impact to the destination, it’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the area with that kind of people coming to town,” Wittstruck said.

Small business owners said the event was great for them after weathering the COVID pandemic for the past two years.

“I think it helps promote your local business owners, especially the small people,” Elizabeth Parker, a local small business owner, said. “I mean, after COVID, it has hurt all of us as a small business owner.”

Musicians had the same story.

“It’s good for the community,” musician Derrol Fulghum said. “I think, especially after Hurricane Michael, and after the pandemic, to see the turnout here has been absolutely mind blowing.”

People traveled far and wide for Oktoberfest.

“[We had] five different countries including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands,” Wittstruck said.

Event officials said the goal is to expand the event every year.

“There’s no reason not to think that next year is not going to be bigger than this,” Wittstruck said.