I can’t say the Miss Oktoberfest Gala was ever a huge event on Communitech’s radar. Communitech is a big supporter, and our staff actively attend a variety of Oktoberfest events.
But the Miss O gala was never a top priority — until this year when Holly Pearson, a Talent Co-ordinator at Communitech, announced she was in the Miss Oktoberfest contest. The role goes back to 1969.
Pretty soon most of our staff was intrigued. What did the role involve? Could we help Holly practise her royal wave? What else did she have to do to win the role of Miss Oktoberfest?
On Friday, Oct. 2, a few of our staff attended the Miss Oktoberfest Gala to cheer on Holly. To everyone’s delight, she won, and now reigns until Oct. 1, 2016
Although her official duties have already begun, I grabbed a few moments this week to chat with Holly about her new role as Miss O.
Q – What does Oktoberfest mean to you?
A – Oktoberfest has always been a huge part of my family. My dad has German heritage and we’ve always been avid goers to the parade and participated since I was young. For my family, it means a coming together of sorts. It’s a chance for us all to be together for a time that’s not Christmas or a holiday.
Q – What made you apply to the pageant?
A – So I’m going to tell you, it’s not a pageant anymore. It’s still what everyone thinks, but it’s not. Personally, I would never go for something like a pageant. What it is, is an ambassador role to represent Oktoberfest for your year, to go around [the region] and speak about it, and what it offers to the community.
I was drawn to that role because I love Oktoberfest. Being someone who has participated in it since I was really young, I could speak about it. I did that naturally. It was something I already did. I was the one who could always convince my friends. That part was easy for me.
On top of that, I really wanted a chance to meet members of the community and to get out there and connect members of the community to Oktoberfest in ways they may not even think could happen.
I think I’ve referenced Techtoberfest before, because Techtoberfest is a really great way to connect different sectors, such as tech, to something that brings in quite a bit of funding and opportunities for our community.
To be an ambassador is a really great way to represent to our community what Oktoberfest does and how successful it has made our community. And to show that there are other opportunities to get involved with Oktoberfest than just the beer drinking and fest halls.
Q – What does your year look like?
A – The two weeks of the festival are the busiest time for me. It’s quite packed and we have a tight schedule to make appearances at events. After (Oktoberfest) I have the opportunity to go around the community and speak about Oktoberfest, or causes that motivate me, to people such as youth, and different organizations in the community.
It won’t be quite as packed but it will be busy as well.
Q – How many visits can you expect to make in the next year?
A – The typical amount of visits is 170 – 180 appearances.
Q – And you are going to balance that with a full-time job?
A – I am, yes.
Q – How does that work? Is that typical for a Miss O to be working full-time?
A – Yes, it is. I think the youngest Miss O has been either 20 or 21, so they may be in their last year of university. I’ve known that the past Misses have been working. It’s geared towards young professionals at this stage.
It comes with some challenges for sure, and balancing that I don’t think will be easy. Being organized and staying on top of everything and knowing where I need to be, will be what I need to do.
It’s a part-time job on top of my full-time job.
Q – What have been some of the fun, crazy parts since you were crowned?
A – So I was crowned Friday night. And I couldn’t get to sleep until about 3:30 a.m. because I was so excited about everything. And then I had to wake up for 6:30 because we had to get right to it the next day. I was getting a photo shoot done for the media photo. I made my first appearance that evening at Uberhaus, which is one of the new locations this year, at Maxwell’s (Concerts and Events).
And we were there until probably 11:30, so I was pretty pooped by the end of the day. The adrenaline and excitement kept me going. So that was my first day.
Now we are easing into it. This week is a lot of media and coverage. Next week are actual appearances at festhalls. It’s going to go so fast.
Q – What else would you want to know about Miss O and the experience?
A – I think something that is important to mention is that the ambassador role is huge. While we still have the crown and the sash, you are an ambassador and it really is — the community wants a strong woman in this role.
You need to be able to speak about Oktoberfest, all sides of it, including that you need to have a safe ride home during the festival. Please don’t get behind the wheel.
I like that I get to deliver that message. It’s so important. Miss O is not just a face, it’s a multi-faceted role.
It’s changed a lot over the last 10 years. We used to have women come from all over the US and that made it seem more like a pageant. Over the last 10 years, they’ve done a lot to break out of that, to make it someone who’s local and who will be a great ambassador for the role.
Q – What are you looking forward to in the next two weeks?
A – There are three big things I’m looking forward to.
The K-W Rogers Women of the Year is this Thursday, and I’m pretty excited about that. There are a lot of speeches that are going to be done by very strong women of our community, and I find that very motivating. Those words can be very empowering.
I’m also excited about Opening Ceremonies. I’ve never been able to go in the past. To be able to go as Miss Oktoberfest is a whole other spectrum of awesome.
Lastly, the Thanksgiving Day parade: I’ve watched it for years. To experience it from that position on the float is going to be completely surreal.
Q – The crown: do you get to keep it and wear it to work?
A – Absolutely. This is my small one for everyday wear.
It’s a long Thanksgiving weekend. Enjoy your time Oktoberfesting, eating turkey and watching baseball. If you need to get out of the house, I see and hear that . . . This Friday, Oct. 9, is the official Opening Ceremonies Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. The free fun starts at 11:15 at the Carl Zehr Square in front of Kitchener City Hall (200 King St. W. in Kitchener). Join the crowds to watch the official keg-tapping ceremony that kicks off the nine days of festing . . . On Tuesday, Oct. 13, head to Maxwell’s Concerts & Events (35 University Ave. E., Waterloo) for the first-ever Techtoberfest Kick-Off Party. While Communitech’s Techtoberfest is a conference limited to startups and venture capitalists, we wanted to have a community party to celebrate the season. Your $20 ticket gets you food, entertainment, live music, games (did some say a mechanical bull?) and your first drink is covered. Doors open at 6 p.m.