The Festival would not be possible without the dedication of more than 400 year-round volunteers and 1,300 community and service club volunteers to stage Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival — Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. Since 1969, our constant growth and success promoting a unique German heritage experience is a testament to the thriving relationship and pride between the Festival and the community.
2023 Volunteers of the Year
2023 Volunteer of the Year, Andrea Davidson
A member of the Mascots and Parade committees, Andrea encompasses the Festival’s spirit of Gemütlichkeit. Throughout the year she can be found either escorting a mascot or wearing the costume herself. She also works tirelessly on parade day to ensure its continued success and actively invites others to volunteer so they can feel a part of Oktoberfest and its many offerings. Andrea is engaging, upbeat and a team player who goes out of her way to volunteer for as many events as she can. As a new mom, Andrea still makes the Festival a priority and truly believes that its heritage and history should be shared with the community.
2023 Volunteer of the Year, Rob Hesch
For over 20 years, Rob has been a passionate volunteer with the Festival. He has held numerous roles, most recently sitting on Oktoberfest’s Operating Council to help lead their sponsorship efforts. For Rob, Oktoberfest is not a time of year, but a state of mind. He is passionate about his German roots and shares his enthusiasm for heritage, culture and traditions with the greater German-Canadian community. Rob’s knowledge, can-do attitude and support has greatly impacted the Festival’s success. In the words of his nominator “Rob is an example of what a true volunteer should be. He exudes more than a passion for what he does, he exudes a way to live.”
2023 Volunteer of the Year, Carl Buder (posthumously)
With close to 25 years as a parade and hospitality volunteer, Carl’s commitment to Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest was inspiring. He was a mastermind at creating atmosphere, networking and encouraging people to get involved with the activities he cared about most. Carl was the type of volunteer who prided himself on getting the job done correctly and on time without seeking recognition or acknowledgement. During his career, he served with the Waterloo Regional Police Service and was the liaison between the police and the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Parade for many years before retiring. Unfortunately, Carl passed away in August of 2023 after a courageous battle with cancer. His wife June and daughter Vicki accepted the award in Carl’s honour.
2022 Volunteers of the Year
2022 Volunteer of the Year, Jim Laturney – 20+ year volunteer For the past 20+ years, Jim Laturney has been a dedicated volunteer with Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. His involvement began with the parade team in the marshalling area, and while he left the team for a short time, he was drawn back in 2017 by the energy of the parade. Jim’s attention to detail enables him to manage all the features of our extensive parade route, making him instrumental in the operations and planning for the parade. Jim’s ‘Parade Manual’ will be his legacy and a tool for future parade organizers. Jim Laturney is the Volunteer of the Year for 2022.
2022 Volunteer of the Year, Scott Foster – 17 year volunteer Scott Foster has been a dedicated volunteer with Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest for over 17 years. He has been an active member of the mascots committee since 2005. Scott’s family is integral to many aspects of the festival with the entire Foster family participating in various committees. He is also an unofficial member of the Maypole committee as he helps out when needed. Scott is always willing to help and is the “go-to” guy for all the committees he is involved with. For this reason, and many more, Scott Foster is the Volunteer of the Year for 2022.
2022 Volunteer of the Year, Jillian Grant – 9 year volunteer For almost a decade, Jillian Grant has brought her energy and passion to Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. She has been the Volunteer Services Chair since 2014. Through Jillian’s leadership, the committee relied heavily upon her during the pandemic and also as they rebuilt this year. She continues to assist with developing new volunteer events and has been instrumental in helping to “modernize” our volunteer program. Jillian also served on the culinary committee from 2015-2020. Jillian Grant is the Volunteer of the Year for 2022.
2021 Volunteers of the Year
2021 Volunteer of the Year, Karina Graf
Karina Graf has been a dedicated volunteer with Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest for over 10 years now. In that time, the festival has truly come to rely on Karina for her confident leadership and strong performance as committee chair of some of our most valued events. Karina began with the Tour de Hans committee in 2012, eventually becoming chair in 2016. She managed the safe and successful execution of an event involving hundreds of cyclists and volunteers on a 100km route. In 2018 Karina took over as chair of the Women of the Year committee, guiding a strong team of long-time volunteers in delivering a high-profile event recognizing the outstanding women of our community. Through Karina’s leadership, the Women of the Year committee navigated a changing community, venue changes, and even a postponement in 2020. With the onset of the pandemic, Karina deftly guided her team in transitioning a 500 person event into a successful and truly engaging virtual event, with a record number of award nominations submitted in 2021. Karina is always the first to arrive and the last to leave her events, she is organized, approachable and completely committed to creating a positive experience for every guest, sponsor and volunteer she meets. Karina Graf is the Volunteer of the Year for 2021.
2021 Volunteer of the Year, Craig Moore
For the past 8 years, Craig Moore has brought his easy-going leadership style to the Oktoberfest Golf Committee, most significantly as Committee chair since 2014. The Oktoberfest Golf Experience has seen a great deal of change since Craig took the helm, including multiple venue changes, sponsor changes and even a pandemic, all of which required Craig’s careful thought and decisive action. Craig contributes to every aspect of the event, from sponsorships and planning to hands-on execution! In 2020 and 2021 the Oktoberfest Golf Experience had to make significant adjustments to keep our guests safe and healthy! Craig led his team to one of the most successful Oktoberfest Golf Experience events in memory, with rave reviews from sponsors and guests alike. Craig brings his calm and relaxed leadership style to every situation and has never been one to shy away from the heavy lifting on event day. For this reason, and many more, Craig Moore is the Volunteer of the Year for 2021.
We acknowledge that the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Inc. Head Office is situated on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee Peoples. We also acknowledge that the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest community festival takes place on this traditional territory. It is the settlers of this traditional territory whose cultural roots we celebrate during Oktoberfest. We also recognize and respect the cultural diversity that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people bring to our community and recognize their past and present contributions to this land.