WEST BOULEVARD: Community enjoys games, food and live music at Oktoberfest

Monday, October 3, 2011 | 10:39 a.m. CDT
Kim Brucks and Zeke Arnold, 8, volunteer at the football throw booth as part of Oktoberfest at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 2, 2011. The church holds this event every year.

COLUMBIA — The 24th annual Oktoberfest was held at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon. Parishioners and community members enjoyed an afternoon full of games, food and live music.

Chris Widmer has organized the event for the past three years and said it has been getting bigger each year. Typically, a parishioner organizes Oktoberfest for three years and then passes the duties to another church member, Widmer said.

More than 300 volunteers helped work the five-hour event. The volunteers sold game tickets, ran the prize booth, sold cotton candy and root beer floats and served food.

Each grade level is typically in charge of a specific game, and the parents of students enrolled at Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School volunteer to run them. Football, beanbag, bottle ring and duck tosses were just a few of the games set up. Other activities included a bounce house, mini golf and a cake walk.

Children were given prize tickets to redeem at the prize booth for stuffed animals, candy, inflatable toys, pencils, checkers and disco balls.

John Elfrink, a father of four, said the activity picks up in the afternoon. He has attended Our Lady of Lourdes for almost 14 years and said his kids enjoy Oktoberfest.

The congregation of more than 2,500 families was asked to donate a cake and a pie or two cakes. The cakes were given away as prizes for the cake walk, which is the most popular activity, according to Rob Schepker, the entertainment organizer, and parishioner Tricia Vogt. 

The pies were served with pork chop and pork burger meals prepared by Missouri Pork Producers. Vogt said a group of parishioners gets together the Friday before Oktoberfest to wrap the potatoes for the meals. This year, more than 1,000 potatoes were wrapped.

While eating outside, people listened to three acts, each performing for about 75 minutes. Schepker said he begins planning the event in July. He has organized the entertainment portion for the past two years and organized Oktoberfest before Widmer. He said this year was easier to organize because the acts from last year wanted to return.

A group of four teens playing acoustic, current pop music began the afternoon. The group consisted of singer and guitarist Connor Gundy, keyboardist Kaylie Vogt, Cajon drummer Jacob Keener and upright bass player Blaise Vogt.

The Woodhippies, Al Jennings, Vogt and Schepker continued the afternoon with mainly classic rock. The group has been together for two years and plays two acoustic guitars, a keyboard and a banjo.

Tom Selva was the final act. He plays a single guitar and sings modern music.

A silent auction was held in one of the school buildings. Lots consisted of several kids baskets, food baskets, two wreaths, paintings, three throw blankets and small appliances, such as a waffle maker, coffee pot and a George Foreman grill.

Quilts and money prizes were raffled off at the end of the day. Each parishioner received 24 tickets per raffle to sell.

The two quilts raffled were designed by Val Reiske and completed by the Women of Lourdes Hand Quilting group. The winners were Jennifer Doty and Denise Thurman. 

Margaret Gladbach has been volunteering at Oktoberfest for the past six years. She said the participation in the raffle has increase in recent years. The quilts are made from donated material, and the cash prizes are taken out of the ticket sales. The remainder of the ticket sales is put into a general church fund.

Widmer and Schepker said Oktoberfest helps build a sense of community. Schepker described the event as the church picnic.

“We’ve had a great turn out and an unbelievable number of volunteers,” Widmer said. “Overall, a great day. Everybody’s smiling.”

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