This isn’t Shanna Granger’s first rodeo.
While this may be the first time Granger is producing Fort Worth Oktoberfest under her company Prost Production, Granger was at the helm of Oktoberfest for seven years in her previous position as an event planner for the Tarrant Regional Water District.
But this year is different. The water district, which sponsored the three-day German beer festival for several years, cut Oktoberfest and four other events from its 2023 budget, citing a desire to “increase alignment with the district’s mission.”
Since leaving the water district in late 2021, Granger has continued her role as the event’s lead organizer. Fort Worth Oktoberfest is set for Sept. 22-24 and will feature live performances from German bands, a dachshund race, carnival games and Run Und Ride races. Spaten beer will be served across the festival grounds.
If you go: Fort Worth Oktoberfest
When: Sept. 22-24
How to buy tickets: Attendees can purchase individual day passes or a three-day pass for Oktoberfest. A Thursday, Sept. 22 pass is $10, while Friday, Sept. 23 and Saturday, Sept. 24 are $15 each. A three-day pass is $20. All beer and food must be purchased separately.
Parking: Parking will be available near Will Rogers Memorial Center and Farrington Field.
Address: Trinity Park, 2401 University Dr.
Fort Worth, Texas 76107
The road to hosting the 2022 festival hasn’t come without obstacles, including a late venue change to Trinity Park caused by the water district’s decision to rescind a permit for Granger to host the event at Panther Island Pavilion in downtown Fort Worth. The water district owns the pavilion and must approve rentals.
The new location has high visibility in the Cultural District and room for growth over future years, Granger said.
“For us, we were going to have it happen either way, because we had invested in the (beer) steins and all those things,” Granger told the Report, referring to contracts with vendors. “There was really not an option to not have it, so it just came down to where. We’re just very excited about the new location.”
Granger had only a few months to find a new venue after learning in May that the water district would cancel her permit. She filed suit against the water district and three board members in June, seeking up to $1 million in damages for breaching contract, interfering with business relationships and violating the Texas Open Meetings Act by discussing the permit outside of public meetings.
Dan Buhman, the water district’s general manager, told the Report he made the decision to rescind the permit after learning that the water district could not grant a “thing of value,” such as the Oktoberfest branding or venue, to a corporation or individual without meeting several constitutional tests.
The water district spent $271,017 and earned $415,405 from Oktoberfest in fiscal year 2021, according to its 2023 budget – a profit of $144,388. District spokesman Chad Lorance confirmed that the agency does not have plans to host Oktoberfest in 2022 and declined to comment on legal proceedings.
Granger declined to discuss the ongoing litigation, but added that no one entity owns Oktoberfest or can trademark it. Her event is not an extension of the water district’s event and is a completely separate festival, Granger said.
“I could have produced this Oktoberfest anywhere – I could have gone to Trinity Park first,” she said. “I went to Panther Island Pavilion because I wanted to support TRWD and have it at the venue that people are familiar with. That didn’t work out.”
In July, Judge Chris Taylor dismissed Granger’s complaints with the exception of the Texas Open Meetings Act allegations. Since then, Granger’s attorneys have dropped their allegations against board members Leah King, James Hill and Mary Kelleher, according to legal documents obtained by the Report.
The event has come with unexpected bills, especially the cost of building an air-conditioned structure that would have been included on-site at Panther Island Pavilion. Granger also points to positive changes, like the ability to donate some Oktoberfest proceeds to the Fort Worth Parks and Recreation Department.
In previous years, profits from the event would benefit the water district. Now, Granger is talking with the city of Fort Worth about donating funds to cover unbudgeted repairs at Dream Park, among other possibilities.
While there may have been confusion over whether Oktoberfest would take place this year, Granger expects that to be resolved through her post-Labor Day media campaign. Most of Oktoberfest’s ticket sales come after the holiday, she said.
She encourages people to buy tickets now so they can ensure they receive a commemorative stein when they arrive at Trinity Park. All attendees who purchase tickets prior to 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 21 are guaranteed a free commemorative 2022 Oktoberfest stein, while a limited number will be available to people who buy tickets at the gate.
Attendees can expect a similar Munich-inspired experience to previous Oktoberfests, Granger said, but this year’s festival will stand on its own.
“It’s all the same fun German experience that people in Fort Worth have grown to love – the same fun, the music, the beer, the activities, the dachshund races,” Granger said. “We’re trying to be as authentic as we can here in Fort Worth.”
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