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20 Years of Harpoon Octoberfest

September 17, 2009

The 20th Anniversary of Harpoon Octoberfest is a mere 2 weeks away.  For many months we prepare for this, our largest festival of the year; we make sure we’re brewing enough beer, we rent the tents, book the oompah bands, buy the chocolate cake, dry clean the lederhosen, and so on.  It’s a lot of work and a good deal of organizing for many people here at the brewery (me included).  But when I realized that this year was the 20th anniversary of our Octoberfest, I had to stop and think about it for a minute.  Twenty years.  That’s a long time.

I think it’s safe to say that Harpoon Octoberfest has become somewhat of an iconic celebration in New England; a huge fall celebration in the local brewery’s parking lot that has been bringing people together for good times over beers for 20 years.  It’s become a reunion for friends, a great place to make new friends, an anniversary for couples who have met here, an anniversary for couples who have broken up here, and an all around great place to hang out with your pals and have a beer.

I recently asked Rich Doyle, our CEO, about how it all started.  In full disclosure, it wasn’t the first time I had asked him about this, but I needed a refresher and I remember liking the story.  Anyway, Rich had always wanted Harpoon to be a focal point in the city, a place that welcomed the community to stop in, have a beer, and socialize.  In the first few years at Harpoon, let’s just say that things weren’t looking very rosy.  The year the first Harpoon Octoberfest was thrown, it wasn’t clear whether or not Harpoon would survive another year.  Rich had always wanted to throw and Octoberfest party modeled after the original in Munich.  He figured that it was as good a time as any to throw a blowout at the brewery.  As it so happened, the Octoberfest turned out to be a big hit.  People came in droves to the party, which at that time was held inside the brewery amidst the tanks.  Rich and the gang here had to call their family and friends into the brewery to come and help out.  And, as they say, the rest is history.

We’re expecting close to 14,000 people here at the brewery over the two days of the festival.  The party has gotten much bigger, but Rich will still be here slinging beers, the oompah bands will still be playing waltzes, and everyone is still welcome.  Happy 20th Harpoon Octoberfest!

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