Alpenhaus owner hopes for local 'Oktoberfest'
Manuela Young loves all things Bavarian.
She has said her Bank Street restaurant, The Alpenhaus, in New Milford is designed to "create an experience of being in the German Alps."
When Young heard the Village Green is now available for special occasions during which alcohol could be served, she applied to hold an Oktoberfest on Oct. 16.
The Parks & Recreation Commission has approved her application.
If Young receives permission from Mayor Pat Murphy and Police Chief Shawn Boyne regarding the town's alcohol ordinance, the event would be held Oct. 16 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on the Village Green.
Traditional German food would be offered as would draft beer and wine, Young said. A controlled area would be established at which alcohol consumption could take place with proper age identification.
The event would coincide with the season's final Third Thursday music event, hosted by Bank Street Investment on the Green.
At least two recreation commission members were concerned about allowing the Oktoberfest event, fearing it could open the door to commercial alcohol sales on the green.
"That goes beyond the parameters of what the commission considered when we approved where alcohol could be served," said longtime commission member Tom Saunders.
Two months ago, the commission added the Village Green to the list of parks in New Milford where alcohol could be be consumed with a permit. Carlson Grove and Clatter Valley are the other two parks. The change was made in conjunction with the recently approved alcohol ordinance by the Town Council.
Saunders pointed to the minutes from June's Parks & Recreation meeting, noting "wine and beer tasting could take place in a controlled environment with consumption being minor."
Events were to be considered on a case by case basis.
Jeff Kilberg, organizer of A Taste of New Milford, has received permission to have local wineries and microbreweries offering tastes of their beverages at the Sept. 10 event on the green.
Per the town's alcohol ordinance, Kilberg needed to get approval from the mayor and police chief, as does Young. A New Milford police officer must be on site at the organizer's expense.
The mayor, who experienced life in Germany during her military career, feels Young's Oktoberfest would be an appropriate usage of the new ordinance.
"I think an Oktoberfest is an event," Murphy said. "I don't think allowing it would open up commercial sales. I don't think alcohol is the priority with this request."
Murphy said the cost of setting up an event on the green would make it prohibitive for restaurants or taverns to make it a regular occurrence.
Insurance, tent rental and installation, lighting and security presence would add up to a considerable sum, she said.
"In Germany, Oktoberfests are very big events throughout the country, as are volksmarches, where whole communities hike together and then enjoy a traditional meal with beer," she said.