Chamber pulls plug on Cooptoberfest event

Cooptoberfest, seen in this 2015 photo, will not return to Cooperstown for a fifth year, according to the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, which will shift its focus to the Artisans Festival, a Labor Day Weekend event.  Mike Perrino

Cooptoberfest, after a four-year run as a fall event in the village of Cooperstown, and will not return in October.

The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce announced May 31 it would no longer hold Cooptoberfest, a day-night doubleheader of fall events featuring a street fair during the day and a beer festival at night, all on a closed-to-vehicles Main Street.

Chamber Executive Director Tara Burke, who has been in the position since April 1, said the chamber’s board of directors did not think Cooptoberfest was financially viable.

“The numbers just didn’t support it continuing,” Burke said. “All events have a lifespan. We hope closing this door opens up other opportunities for us and our business community to bring people to Cooperstown.”

Burke said she is open to another October festival or event, and is willing to listen to ideas. But for 2019, the chamber will focus its efforts on one event, the revitalized Artisans Festival, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1, on Otsego County property at 197 Main. St. in Cooperstown.

Burke said many of the family-friendly events from Cooptoberfest would be brought to the Artisans Festival, including kid-centered art activities or lessons. In addition, she said the weekend would feature a significant upgrade in the number of food vendors and variety of offerings.

Burke, an Elmira native who is a former employee of The Daily Star, previously worked at the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce. She replaced Matt Hazzard, who resigned earlier this year. She said she has spent her first two months on the job mostly listening to chamber members and village residents.

Burke said one subject which has come up a lot is Cooptoberfest’s predecessor, Pumpkinfest, which featured giant pumpkins being weighed and used in a regatta. It ended in 2014 when the cost of growing giant pumpkins made it financially unsustainable.

“I can’t tell you how many people have talked to me already about the pumpkins,” she said.

Burke said there are many details about the Artisans Festival to work out, and more about the weekend will be announced later. Go to www.wearecooperstown.com or the chamber’s Facebook page for more information.

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7211.