By Darrell Wacker
VANDALIA — It’s time for the 41st Annual Vandalia Sister Cities of Vandalia Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest will be held Friday and Saturday, September 8-9, at Lichtenfels-Prestwick Field at the Vandalia Sports Complex.
Organizers and members of the Vandalia-Butler Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting on the Oktoberfest grounds on Tuesday morning.
Vandalia Sister Cities President Harvey Kimmel thanked the community for its support in the past and encouraged them to come out again for the 41st year.
“The more successful the Oktoberfest is, the more Vandalia Sister Cities can do in the community,” said Kimmel. Those activities include the organization’s youth exchanges and scholarships offered to Butler High School students.
The Oktoberfest features authentic German food, gambling, and live entertainment. And what would an Oktoberfest be without beer? Vandalia’s own Hairless Hare Brewery will be featured along with many draft and bottled beers and wine.
Food selections will feature authentic German fare as well as traditional American favorites. On the menu is homemade German potato salad, cabbage rolls, hamburgers, giant brats, mets, hot dogs, pretzels, cream puffs and strudel, popcorn, funnel cakes, and more.
There will be arts and crafts booths, and gambling Friday and Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to midnight. Also, a Kid’s Korner hosted by All About Dance will include canvas painting, sand art, temporart tatoos, face painting, and games with prizes.
The Oktoberfest will be open Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight and Saturday noon to midnight. Entry is $4.00 and the wristband is good for the entire weekend. Children under 12 are free. No pets are allowed.
Performing at this year’s Oktoberfest will be the Sauerkraut Band from 6 – 7:30 p.m. on Friday followed by This Side Up from 8 – midnight.
On Saturday, the Sauerkraut Band will perform from noon – 2:30 p.m. followed by the Cotton Band (3 – 7 p.m.), with Reload ending the night from 8 p.m. to midnight.
The Oktoberfest was begun in 1978 when Vandalia Sister Cities were looking to raise funds for hosting guests from Sister City Lichtenfels on a cultural exchange. It was a resounding success and has been held every year since.
Oktoberfest was nearly cancelled this year due to a lack of available volunteers but the community rallied around the event to organize and provide additional volunteers so the 41st Oktoberfest could be held as planned. Volunteers are still needed and those interested are asked to contact Sharon Dixon at (937) 477-5025 or by email at ShannonDixonRealtor@yahoo.com.
The money raised by Oktoberfest has allowed Sister Cities to arrange unusual and interesting visits for their guests in addition to funding scholarships, yearly youth exchanges, the Butler High School After Prom, Vandalia food pantry, and other charitable causes.
Sister Cities was formed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 with the goal of promoting peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the world.
Vandalia became a member of Sister Cities in 1975 when it was paired with Lichtenfels, Germany. In 1993, a second city, Prestwick, Scotland became a Sister City of Vandalia. Prestwick was already a Sister City with Lichtenfels, and the three cities formed a unique triangular arrangement.
Darrell Wacker can be reached at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.