Bierocks, bratwurst, and beer: an alliteration of confections that the Ellis County community looks forward to every year in anticipation of Oktoberfest.
This year, the relationship between Fort Hays State University and Oktoberfest has drifted further apart.
Oktoberfest was first organized as a downtown celebration in 1976 and has become a traditional celebration of the Volga German Heritage of Ellis County.
FHSU has traditionally held its Homecoming in conjunction with the holiday as well as cooperated with various community organizations, including the Ellis County Historical Society, the Volga German Society, and local businesses to celebrate a day dedicated to remembering the heritage of Ellis County.
President Mirta Martin refused to tap the keg at last year’s Oktoberfest, signaling a change in tradition and dynamics between the university and the Ellis County community.
“I will honor the German traditions, its wonderful people and its rich heritage,” Martin said in a Hays Daily News article last year, “I just do not believe that tapping a keg is something that I, in my role as president, should be doing.”
Changes to university policy this year are affecting on campus student organizations in regards to the holiday, namely restrictions on designs used for T-shirt sales.
The VGS was unavailable to comment as to whether this was a joint effort to minimize the unofficial tradition of binge drinking by students and community members.
The designs are reviewed by a committee consisting of staff from the Center for Student Involvement Office, Student Affairs, a University Relations representative, and members of the Student Government Association, according to university staff.
One key distinction for this year is that shirts cannot associate the FHSU brand with Oktoberfest. Shirts that encourage irresponsible behavior also do not get approved, according to one university staff member.
Many student organizations rely on this holiday as their sole fundraiser, which provides money from t-shirt sales for their organizational accounts. It is yet unclear whether these stipulations will have a tangible effect on t-shirt sales.
The annual Volga German Society Oktoberfest will begin at 9:00 AM and conclude at 7:00 PM. It will once again be located North of the dike, off of Main Street. The event brings hundreds of people to Hays for the weekend and attendees enjoy unique German food, crafts, refreshments, beer and of course, polka music.