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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Oktoberfest not drawing controversy of past years

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Capital Ale House’s fifth-annual Oktoberfest, which is set for Saturday in downtown Fredericksburg, has not generated the same public controversy as has occurred in previous years.

Many downtown merchants publicly objected to previous Oktoberfest events, saying the closure of the 800 and 900 blocks of Caroline Street to vehicular traffic made it hard for their usual customers to come shop.

Last year some changes were made to the setup that allowed people to cross over Caroline Street within the event area. Some merchants said that satisfied their concerns about Oktoberfest, which typically brings thousands of people downtown.

Capital Ale President Matt Simmons said he hasn’t heard anything negative about this year’s local Oktoberfest. Proceeds from the $2 cover charge will go to the Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative, which is in the process of forming a board and hiring an executive director.

Fredericksburg Economic Development Director Karen Hedelt attributes the lessening controversy over Oktoberfest to the improved pedestrian flow in the event area, as well as merchants adapting to the event and seeing the secondary benefits as visitors shop and eat downtown.

In addition to ample beer and food, Oktoberfest features live music and dancing and a variety of activities for kids such as inflatables and face-painting. The gates open at 11:30 a.m., and Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw will tap the ceremonial keg at noon. The outdoor festival wraps up at 10 p.m.