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Oktupperfest returns this fall

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

After a year’s hiatus, Tupper Lake’s beloved fall festival is returning, bringing the community together on shared love—beer, food, live music and fall foliage on October 5.

From a lack of event-coordinating personnel, the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Oktupperfest couldn’t come together last year but this year it’s coming back in full action.

“We’re trying to get something a little different going this year,” said lead organizer, Hayley McCottery, the former chamber event-coordinator who ran community events like the Brewski and the Phil Edwards Memorial Hockey Tournament. “It’s hard that we can’t be at the mountain, that’s what everyone knows about Oktupperfest.”

With support from the chamber of commerce, the festival is coming to fruition with the excitement and enthusiasm that the young events-coordinator brings to her projects. Although McCottery is no longer affiliated with the chamber, she’s returning to her old role temporarily to revive this event.

For over 30 years Oktupperfest was held atop Mt. Morris where the community informally celebrated the end of the short Adirondack summers, the beautiful red, orange and yellows of the changing season and the approaching winter where, back then, the community would go on to ski the slopes of Big Tupper months later.

The last Oktupperfest, in 2017, the event had to, regretfully, come down from the mountain for the first time. The event was held instead at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park due to the Adirondack Club’s developments that were underway on the mountain.

Despite the community’s unconditional support that year, the cold, rainy weather and overall environment at the park didn’t quite feel like an Oktupperfest that this community was used to. Something felt a little off.

A few locations were considered for this year’s event with the municipal park never making the cut.

Organizers considered Little Wolf Beach, Tupper Lake’s local vacation spot and the destination for the tri-annual Little Wolfstock, with its sandy beaches and its close-proximity to the downtown and the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory, leaving opportunity for a diverse range of activities.

After further planning, Little Wolf Beach had to be ruled out. The beach’s water will be shut off at the end of the summer which would cause issues with attaining food permits required by the food vendors that will be on site at the event.

Organizers came to a more-appropriate location, not far from the original Oktupperfest grounds—the Tupper Lake Golf Course.

With its open space, dense foliage and scenic backdrops of Adirondack mountains and hills, the Tupper Lake Golf Course is the best alternative to the mountain, hopefully creating a hint of nostalgia of previous Oktupperfests as event-goers turn off Route 30 and drive up Country Club Road.

The event is still coming together with kinks yet to be ironed out.

“We’re still working things out with the golf course and figuring out what’s permissible and what areas and how much space we can use,” McCottery said.

Like a typical Oktupperfest, there will be plenty of activities for all ages to enjoy including pumpkin painting, face painting, games and hay rides where passengers can enjoy a spectacle of fall colors throughout the golf course and the cross-country ski trails that hidden amongst the dense woods surrounding the course.

Organizers are also getting Zorb Balls for the event, giant inflatable, human-sized hamster balls where anyone can roll, bounce and bump around in a safe and playful nature.

Local rock band Bittersweet will be providing musical entertainment, as well as Night School, a Tupper Lake favorite who will be teaching lessons on the changing leaves and German traditions.

Event-goers can also expect a variety of beer to enjoy, including craft beers and lighter options like Coors Light, Miller Lite and Bud Light. Organizers are still in the midst of getting craft brewers on board.

Organizers are also working out food vendors for the event to provide a variety of foods to go along with the festivities. Currently, the only confirmed vendor is the Lions Club which will be serving up hamburgers and hotdogs, smothered, of course, in the famous Lions caramelized onions.

All the monies generated at this years Oktupperfest will go to benefit the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sunday, September 1.

The chamber of commerce is always looking for additional support, sponsorships and colunteers. If interested, contact the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce at (518) 359-3328, or pop into their office at 121 Park Street.