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Thanks, Dave – Oktoberfest honors retiring board member Dave Kohler

By Stephen Floyd

Longtime Oktoberfest board member Dave Kohler has retired from his post after 49 years with the event, though he is expected to remain a familiar face.

Kohler spent 25 years on the board, in addition to 15 years volunteering for Oktoberfest directly and another nine supporting the event through the Letterman Club at Kennedy High School.

David Kohler
David Kohler

Oktoberfest Director of PR and Marketing Monica Bochsler said Kohler has played a strong leadership role on the board, whether during a planning meeting or tackling a job during the festival.

“If Dave accepted an assignment, he was there and was very, very good about finishing things up,” said Bochsler “I’m going to really miss that in him.”

Kohler began volunteering for Oktoberfest shortly after moving to Mount Angel in 1971 to accept a position teaching math at the high school. He found himself in charge of the Weingarten, which at the time was just under a tent, and it wasn’t uncommon for Kohler to gently turn away his own students as they tried to sneak in.

Oktoberfest Board President Bill Bischoff admitted even he was stopped by Kohler while trying to sneak into the Weingarten before he was 21. 

Bischoff said Kohler was instrumental in helping make the venue a success, including acquisition of the current Weingarten building while serving as board president.

“Look at what the Weingarten is for the festival now,” said Bischoff. “He was in charge of that, he pushed it forward.”

Kohler also spent time coordinating food vendors for Oktoberfest, working with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for licensing, and serving on the fundraising committee that helped build the Festhalle. 

Bischoff said Kohler was so involved over the years that he has served in nearly every role except board treasurer.

Both Bischoff and Bochsler said this variety of experience was a valuable resource for the board, whether they needed his perspective on how the festival was run in the past, or if they were interested in trying something new.

“It’s always very good to have that ability on the board,” said Bochsler. “So often what we’re doing on the board is not doing things that anybody has ever done before.”

Though he is stepping down from his official position, Bochsler said Kohler is welcome at the festival anytime, whether it’s to volunteer taking tickets at the Weingarten or to just sit down and enjoy a glass.

“Whatever Dave chooses will be just fine with us,” she said. 

“We just know it’s been great to have him on the board and have that kind of longevity.”

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