{mosimage} If you were in Fayetteville last year about this time and happened by Festival Park, you may have noticed some strange sights: a Bavarian band, stein relay races, polka dancing and a parade of folks dancing around the park. In case you didn’t figure out what they were doing, they were celebrating Oktoberfest.
    This year, the celebration returns on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 4-8 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, brings a little of the old country to Fayetteville in an afternoon celebration of fall and fun.
Oktoberfest, traditionally is a celebration of beer, and while the traditional beer tent will be on site, organizers want people to know that this day-long event is about more than beer.
    “This is one of those festivities that I was thinking to myself that when I had young children, it’s the kind of thing I would like to take them to,” said Marlene Shelton, the managing director of the CFRT. “There’s going to be games, face painting, balloons, something for them to eat, and for adults there will also be beer, pretzels and polka dances. It’s going to be a great family fun event. There’s going to be something for everybody. I like to say there’s going to be something for everyone from grandma to baby.”
    This is the second Oktoberfest sponsored by the theatre. Last year’s event drew crowds to the park; however, it wasn’t much of a fundraiser for the theatre. This year the organization looked at ways to make it a more effective fundraiser. One of the ways of ensuring its financial success was to add an entrance fee. Tickets for people 12 and up are $10 at the gate. With the ticket purchase, you will receive five $1 coupons to be used for games or food once inside the venue. Shelton said that the games will have prizes awarded.
    Celebrants at the Oktoberfest can listen to music, participate in a sing-along, play games, eat food, lots of food, imbibe of their favorite adult beverage and maybe even take a hayride..
    And for the young-at-heart, but long-in-the-tooth (you adults), there are games for you, too. These games center around the traditional celebration of Oktoberfest, and no, we’re not talking about beer pong. The first event, the Beer Stein Holding contest, is a lot harder than it sounds. The object of the contest is to extend your arm and hold a large beer stein in front of your body without spilling it. The mug can only be held in on hand, and once the competition begins, you cannot switch hands. Participants are eliminated when the level of their mugs drop enough to allow beer to spill. The winner is the one who outlasts everyone else.
    The Beer Stein Relay is a great team competition. The object of this game is to transfer beer from one full bucket to another. Each team will be composed of six members. Team members take turns, relay-style transferring the beer. Sound easy? Think again. The trick is that each player must do this by balancing the beer-filled mug on the palm of their hand as they transport it from one end of the course to the other. If a team member spills his or her beer before dumping it into the other bucket, that member has to start over. The first team to overfill their bucket wins.
    And, of course, Oktoberfest wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without the beer and food. The beer tent will sale several different beers, and will have as its featured beers Hefewiezen and a specially-brewed Oktoberfest beer. Soft drinks, wine and other beers will also be available.
        The theatre board of directors will be manning the grills to offer up the favorite food of Oktoberfest — the bratwurst. “We thought, ‘Hey, they can’t get any better chefs than us,’” said Shelton.
    In addition to the bratwurst there will also be a variety of other foods — ranging from hamburgers and hotgos, chicken kabobs, ice cream and other carnival fare.
    While in the tent, you can raise your mug to the tunes of the Bavarian Brass Band. “They will be playing on and off through the afternoon,” said Shelton. “They’ll perform all of the traditional polkas and German music. They just played in Savannah and ran into some people from Fayetteville. They asked them why there wasn’t something like the event in Fayetteville and they told them there was.”
    For more information about the event, at www.cfrt.org.
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