It’s one of Hays’ most well-known celebrations. But as thousands of locals and visitors congregate Friday in Municipal Park for the annual Volga-German Society Oktoberfest, local safety officials are reminding party-goers to use “common sense.”

The event is in conjunction with Fort Hays State University homecoming. Between the traditional German celebration, FHSU parade and football game, hundreds of visitors are expected to spend the weekend in Hays.

Among the most important reminders is to never drink and drive, said Brian Dawson, Hays Police Department assistant chief. SafeRide will be available for free by calling (785) 621-2580, and local taxi and Uber services also are accessible.

“Those are options to keep in mind, or plan ahead and have a designated driver as well,” Dawson said. “Obviously, don’t over-consume. We want people to have a good time, enjoy the festival and homecoming, the parade and ballgame and everything there is for homecoming.”

It’s illegal in the city of Hays for open containers of alcohol to be transported or carried in public areas. Alcohol consumption during Oktoberfest is limited to the park.

Residents also are advised to avoid walking alone during late-night hours and to keep their vehicles locked, as the city has experienced a recent string of vehicle burglaries.

Private parties also are likely to take place this weekend, but hosts should remember ordinances regarding noise complaints and be sure to pick up after themselves, Dawson said.

“We’d like to mention littering and nuisance laws,” he said. “There’s (often) a bunch of trash left out to blow around the community. We want people hosting parties to be sure they clean up afterwards.”

There will be an increase in the number of officers on duty in Hays this weekend, with several agencies joining efforts. Hays Police Department will increase patrols, and officers will be present from the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control division, Kansas Highway Patrol and other local agencies.

Re-enactment

The Hays Community Theater group will be performing a gunfight re-enactment multiple times throughout the Oktoberfest celebration Friday to give event-goers a taste of local history.