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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Octoberfest -- Estimated number of 20,000 being reported by Police Chief Frank Tennant.

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Traffic clogs downtown intersections for large Octoberfest Saturday   Another big weekend expected
     An ideal fall day last Saturday brought a large crowd to Hermann for Octoberfest, with an estimated number of 20,000 being reported by Police Chief Frank Tennant.    "The number is a rough guess," said Tennant. "I have lots of people asking me how many people are here, so I try to estimate the size of the crowd."    Tennant said traffic jams on Saturday in the downtown area became a real challenge for officers in the early afternoon, and when a crowd assembled along Wharf Street to watch Union Pacific Railroad's old locomotive roll through town, that created more traffic downtown.      The steam locomotive gave many Octoberfesters a special treat when it stopped in Hermann for approximately 20 minutes before departing shortly before noon on Saturday and headed west. The historic train brought hundreds of visitors to the riverfront, and it happened during the peak hours of traffic.    Tennant said most tourists coming to Hermann on any Saturday in October arrive between noon and 2 p.m.      "Traffic was really backed up Saturday after the old train stopped in town," said Tennant. "When it's bumper-to-bumper from one intersection to the next, and people are trying to turn at every intersection, there is no place to direct them."    The police chief said there is a misconception about the officers' main duties. It's not just about traffic.    "If the people are all starting to leave town, we can direct them all out very quickly," he said. "But when they are coming in, looking for a place to park or for a certain shop, and basically driving around sight-seeing, you are going to have congestion."      He said both weekends, so far, have been a concern to him because of the manners of some motorists. Local officers have written two citations, one each for the past two weekends, for drivers getting agitated and becoming aggressive behind the wheel, even swerving through intersections.    "We have people who have a lack of patience. They speed up and start swerving, and that is unac-     ceptable," said Tennant. "It's careless driving, almost like road rage."    He said people have a misconception of what the officers are supposed to be doing. And, he said, they are not there just to direct traffic.    "People see a lot of officers standing at intersections and expect them to be directing trafic," said Tennat. "The No. 1 reason they are there is to deter petty offenses, and to make sure people are paying attention when they cross the street."      Tennant said they also direct buses down Gutenberg Street, and an officer gives each passenger-filled bus a few "ground rules" to follow.    "They are told to respect the community and obey the laws, and we want them to enjoy themselves while they   are here."    Tennant said both citations were issued to people who were from the Hermann area, not tourists.    "I think the out-oftowners expect to get caught in traffic," he said.    The police chief said there were 35 buses parked on Gutenberg Street on Saturday and 10 more at Stone Hill Winery. This Saturday, Tennant expects the crowd to be larger than last week's.      "This weekend, we may close in on 100 buses," he said. "The signs are right. No home Mizzou football game, the weather is going to be good, and the leaves will be at their autumn peak."    Tennant said he will have his largest patrol staff working this Saturday.

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