GENEVA — Kelly Guilfoyle has never attended an Oktoberfest in Germany, but that’s not stopping her from bringing one to the city where she grew up.
“I just want to give back to the community that raised me,” Guilfoyle said, who worked in the high-end hospitality business, fashion industry and craft beer business in New York City for many years before returning to the region. “I am overwhelmed at what Geneva has become.”
Guilfoyle, who has opened an event company as part of her business, Kelly Anne Inc. — she describes it as “a vast encompassing enterprise specializing in event coordination and community entrepreneurship” — decided a while ago that the city needed a festival to highlight the Finger Lakes region’s growing craft beer industry. That morphed into something more: FLX Oktoberfest, a day-long celebration of beer, food and music.
The event, which is 2-10 p.m. Saturday, is sponsored by her company and underwritten largely by Massa Construction. Seneca Street will be closed for the festival. The event site also includes a section of the city’s Seneca Street parking lot closest to the street.
While beer is a big feature of the Oktoberfest, there’s also plenty to do for the whole family, Guilfoyle said, including a 55-foot fun house, carnival games and a bounce house for the kids.
“It’s a family-friendly event,” she reiterated.
The event kicks off with Mayor Ron Alcock tapping the first keg — an Oktoberfest tradition in Germany. It will be followed by the German national anthem, sung by Sharon Kaplun. There are German-inspired food vendors — including Guilfoyle herself — who will be serving an Oktoberfest garbage plate and, of course, lots of beer.
In the Craft Beer Tent, which is open from 5-8 p.m., guests can sample 16 different beers for $2,0 and the list is nearly all Finger Lakes: Other Half, Peacemaker, WeBe, Lake Drum, Star Cider, Brewery of Broken Dreams, Irish Mafia and War Horse. The only brewery not from the Finger Lakes in the tent is Three Heads from Rochester, one of the region’s oldest craft brewers.
“This is a celebration of really great craft beer options (in the Finger Lakes),” Guilfoyle said.
There also will be a beer truck with Sam Adams beers, local IPAs and a light beer.
A couple of special events: the Red Skin Potato-Eating Contest from 2:30-3 p.m. and a Stein-Holding Contest from 3-4:30 p.m.
A DJ will be spinning current music, as well as traditional polka throughout the afternoon, while Guilfoyle has two live acts scheduled: popular local performer Nate Michaels, who plays from 5 to 6:30 p.m., then the Northside String Band from 7:30 to 10 p.m., featuring a mix of Irish, German, Scottish and traditional African music.
Guilfoyle said she’s received a lot of support from the Geneva community and Massa for the inaugural Oktoberfest.
“The reason why this is happening is Massa Construction,” she said. “I was looking for a main sponsor. I approached them, and the next day they signed up.”
Guilfoyle said the city, the Geneva Business Improvement District and Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been “incredibly supportive and helpful.”
She encouraged people to check out the shops on Seneca Street while taking in the festival.
“I really want people to go into the stores and bars and restaurants,” she said.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Geneva Boys and Girls Club.