The streets in Evans City will once again be closed for Oktoberfest from Sept. 20 to 22, with one change: now, it will feature beer and wine by the glass.
Even with the change, the Oktoberfest celebration, which co-chairwoman Marlene Domhoff said attracts 5,000 people annually, will remain the community-event charmer it has been for the past 33 years.
“This is an opportunity for people to get reacquainted with their neighbors,” added Rick Reifenstein, who announces during the festival. “A lot of times in town we get too busy to do a lot of talking and conversing with neighbors like we used to when I was younger.”
More than 50 vendors will line Jackson Street and Wahl Avenue, with craft vendors taking center stage. This year's crafts include handmade jewelry, wine glasses, wood-crafted products, crocheted stuffed animals and a cigar humidor. There also will be a travel agency, just in case the event prompts a desire to see the original festival in Munich.
“People seem to want the homemade things, the crafts, and that's what we're trying to do — to keep it craft,” Domhoff said.
But Oktoberfest wouldn't be complete without a vast diversity of foods. Among the 50 vendors are those serving pierogi, haluski, ribs, pulled pork and Amish doughnuts, and the foods can even be paired with beer and wine from the VFW's stand.
Reifenstein said he had been campaigning since the event began to include beer.
“If you're not going to have the beer, why call it Oktoberfest?” he asked.
There are about a half-dozen food stands intermixed with craft vendors this year, which is intentional — the event's organizers want to make sure everything can be an experience.
“We limit the food so that we don't have a lot of the same food,” Domhoff said.
And though there isn't an unlimited amount of food at the festival, what the Oktoberfest has is enough to please a palate.
“I like to try and spread my eating around to different vendors, because I don't think there's a bad vendor there,” Reifenstein said. “There's always something very interesting.”
While the foods, drinks and crafts may draw people to the event, Domhoff said, their neighbors will keep them there.
“I enjoy it because there's so many people in the community who come out,” Domhoff said, adding that it “pulls everyone together.”
The official community celebration will begin Saturday at 10 a.m., when the parade's participants line up on Jefferson Street. This year's grand marshal will be Frank Viola, whose family's grocery store served Evans City for 55 years.
“We're honoring him because everybody's sad to see him leave,” Domhoff said.
At 11 a.m., the march will begin, featuring the Seneca Valley JROTC, two church floats and the Evans City Middle School band, among others. Extending down Main Street, the parade will last for 30 minutes.
Saturday's events will conclude with a fireworks display at nightfall. Sunday morning, the borough's churches will hold a nondenominational service — and request attendees bring their own chairs — at 11 a.m.
Oktoberfest also features live music all three days, from This, That & The Other Thing on Friday night; The Soul Searchers on Saturday night; and The Dawn Savage Band to close out Sunday's festivities from 1 to 4 p.m.
All of these things, Domhoff said, add to the community feel of the event — which keeps residents coming back to help each year.
“The different groups, like the Boy Scouts and the firemen, everybody works together with that because it is our big community thing,” she said.
IF YOU GO
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Quilt show, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Amish doughnuts
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by This, That & The Other Thing
7 a.m. to 10 p.m.: All-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, Evans City Fire Department
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Quilt show, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
10 a.m.: Parade line-up and judging, Jefferson Street
11 a.m.: Parade
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Patches the Clown
12:30 to 2 p.m.: Live music by Waldo Young
2:30 p.m.: Kids’ tractor pull
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by The Soul Searchers
8:30 p.m.: Fireworks display
11 a.m.: Community church service
Noon to 3 p.m.: Quilt show, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
Noon to 4 p.m.: Car cruise with a DJ, Main Street
1 to 4 p.m.: Live music by The Dawn Savage Band
4 p.m.: Chinese auction and TV raffle drawing