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Helen’s 50th Oktoberfest celebration postponed to 2021
Oktoberfest in Helen is the longest-running Oktoberfest in the United States. - Photo by John Dillon IV

The sound of polka dancing, sloshing of German beer and merry chatter will not surround Helen’s Festhalle this year because the alpine town’s 50th Oktoberfest celebration has been postponed until 2021. 

The Greater Area Helen Chamber of Commerce made the announcement Friday, July 24, in a press release, expressing that the choice was an “extremely difficult decision.”

“No one could have imagined a situation that would cause us to cancel the Festhalle celebrations for our 50th anniversary, and all options were looked at prior to reaching our decision,” the release stated.

Because of the venue’s size, concerns from its entertainers and the celebration’s full dance floors, beer lines and other crowd-drawing activities, the chamber stated that they could see no way to proceed. The Festhalle, where the gathering occurs each fall, is considered a live performance event facility under guidelines for Georgia COVID-19 response/reopening, making the anticipated festivities impossible.

“Despite our wishes and best efforts, we do not believe we would be able to provide an appropriate 50th anniversary celebration for our visitors and still maintain required safety protocols,” the release stated. “It would not be possible for the Festhalle experience this year to come close to what we are known for or what is expected.”

Although the celebration has been postponed, the chamber encouraged people to still take advantage of Helen’s many restaurants, businesses and beautiful mountainous views. 

“We love our visitors and we welcome them,” the release stated. “We are hopeful that other celebrations can safely continue.”

See original story by Kelsey Podo of the Gainesville Times here.