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Bratwurst and beer! Oktoberfest returns to Frederick Fairgrounds

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The sweet smell of German roasted nuts and folk music filled the air as the community came out to enjoy Frederick’s annual Oktoberfest at the Frederick Fairgrounds Friday and Saturday.

Saturday’s activities catered to not only those who favor a German stein, but families as well. A kid’s zone was available and included a bounce house, along with arts and crafts and a heritage tent was even available for those interested in tracing back their German lineage. Vendors of all sorts were also at the event to sell merchandise to festival goers.

But of course, most people came for the beer.

Sharon Crites of Walkersville has been coming to the festival for more than 10 years. She was standing at a high-top table with friends, all donning string necklaces with pretzels hanging from them.

“This was the first year I did it,” she said of the pretzel necklace. “Last year we saw a lot of people wearing them so I went online and learned how to make them, and now we’re the only ones wearing them.”

Crites said she likes the folk music and the beer the best. She was drinking a Spaten lager, which she said was her favorite.

“I just like hanging out with friends, the music and seeing all of the different outfits,” she added.

Individuals dressed in full German attire were admitted free in to the festival.

Sherri Botsford, of Westminster, was dressed in a Drindl. This was her first year dressed in costume.

“I love Halloween costumes and I was looking through the costumes and I saw it and said, ‘I’m getting it!’” she said.

She added she she loves the beer, her favorite being the lemon beer, and “getting together with friends and having a good time.”

This was the first official year the fest was moved from Saturday and Sunday to Friday night and Saturday.

For the past two years it was held Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, but was changed due to volunteer demand, according to Oktoberfest chair, Ashley Waters.

“As an all-volunteer event we’re always very cautious of how much demand we need,” Waters said. “We need over 400 volunteers, some years it’s upward of 600 to 700 volunteers.”

She said another reason is Sunday is a harder day for people and families to come out.

“We’ve got to make sure we cater to what the public wants,” she added. “This year, we kind of blew it out of the park. We had 1,800 people show up Friday night, last year we had 300.”

Waters is a member of the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek, which in partner with the Rotary Club of Southern Frederick County have been organizing Oktoberfest for many years.

She said the event takes about 10 months of planning with about 20 volunteers, then increases to 40 to 50 volunteers as the festival gets closer.

All of the money that is raised from the event gets donated back into community projects, she said. Last year’s Oktoberfest raised $100,000.

She said the community partners are what make Oktoberfest possible. High schoolers in Interact Club—the high school version of Rotary Club—are directing parking and college students are working in the kids zone.

As for the event as a whole, Waters said she loves seeing people dressing up in German dress and getting in the spirit of Oktoberfest.

“You see the little kids in their Dirndl or Lederhosen and that’s what I love,” she said. “I love that people embrace Frederick’s German history, even if they’re not part of it.”

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