Jacksonville Rotary Club’s 5th Annual Oktoberfest

It’s that time of the year again, or should I say, “Es ist die Zeit des Jahres wieder”, time for us all to gather for the 5th annual Oktoberfest, hosted by Jacksonville’s Rotary Club this Saturday, October 3, at the Morgan County Fairgrounds. Everyone’s favorite time to celebrate their German heritage (or at least pretend to celebrate their German heritage) for a day is also one of the Rotary Club’s biggest fundraising events of the year.

Gates will open at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with food sales, tournament registration (for Washers and Bags) and music from the band “Waterloo” will commence. The Willkommen Ceremony, or “Welcoming Ceremony”, will begin shortly after at noon, along with the Tapping of the Kegs. Once the effervescent lager begins to flow, there will be beer and wine tasting that takes place between noon and 5 p.m., with a number of other events and games scheduled periodically throughout the day.

“We’ve got our two bands that we’ve had every year, oompah bands is what they’re referred to, who play Oktoberfest-appropriate music,” Todd Evans, the Rotary Club president, said of musical groups, Waterloo and Heidelberg. “We’ve also got beer and wine tasting, where you can go in and choose which ones you want to taste for a dollar apiece. And then one of the vineyards, they’re going to actually have representatives there, so you if you’ve got questions you can ask them directly.”

Among the day’s events, starting at 2 p.m., is the annual Weiner Dog races, typically a crowd-favorite during the Deutsch day activities. The races aren’t the only canine-based proceedings of the day however, as the Jacksonville Park Foundation and PAWS – through their Bark Park Initiative – will present a “Dogs of Deutschland Parade. As the pooches parade by, the names, ages, breeds and owners will be announced. It is not required that the dogs are German in origin, however, those that are will be specifically recognized. Some of the pups on hand will be marching in style, as there is also a costume contest planned, where both the dogs and their owners have the option of dressing up; the three prizes awarded at the conclusion of the contest will be for 1) Best German Costume, 2) Owner/Pet Duet and 3) Most Creative/Judges Choice. There is no additional charge for potential puppy participants aside from the event’s entry fee.

The aforementioned Washers and Bags tournaments are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., followed by Human Foosball (exactly what it sounds like) at 4 p.m. Other activities planned for the day include a Stein Endurance game, a Keg Tossing competition, a Pretzel Eating contest, Spouse Calling, and a Beer Barrel Obstacle Course. But Oktoberfest is not all about adult beverages and the games that accompany them, there will also be a number of children’s activities available to the jugendliche from noon to 2 p.m.

Taking the stage at 4 p.m. will be the Heidelberg German Band out of Quincy, Ill. Having been together over 40 years, Heidelberg’s music is in the tradition of the German Bier Hall, performing various Polkas, Waltzes and Big Band music ranging from the 1920s to the pop hits of the 1980s.

Admission prices for Oktoberfest are $4 if bought in advance, and $5 at the gate. Tickets can be purchased from any Rotarian, at County Market, SafeCo Bakery & Donuts on Main Street, or by calling 217-408-0055. All proceeds from the event will benefit Jacksonville Area Charities.

“The money ends up going back into the community for all our projects that we do,” said Evans of the Rotary Club’s philanthropic work. “Last year we assembled food packages, over 14,000 meals that went to Haiti, which we did in conjunction with other rotary-type clubs at IC, JHS and Routt. This year, they’ve done a lot of work at First Presbyterian Church and the playground that got sort of torn up because of some construction. So our project this year is to go help the other clubs in putting that playground back together for the kids, the daycare and the whole community.”

“This year, (Rotary Club) has done a lot of work at First Presbyterians Church and the playground that had been torn up during some construction,” said Evans of the Rotary Club’s philanthropic deeds. “So our project this year

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Sports writer with two and a half years as Jacksonville High School's starting quarterback from '06 to '08. Blake currently volunteers his knowledge as a football coach.

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