ALTON — St. Mary’s Oktoberfest is coming to Alton from Friday, Oct. 10, to Sunday, Oct. 12.
Planning committee chair Erin Ventimiglia said the weekend will feature old favorites such as the Glendale Riders and other local bands, authentic German beer and cuisine, a wine garden, and tons of activities. There also will be some new activities, including a mechanical bull.
Oktoberfest began in 2008.
“It was the 150th anniversary of the parish,” Ventimiglia said. “The parish was built by German immigrants, so we wanted to have a German celebration.”
Friday’s kickoff starts at 7 p.m. and will mainly be for adults, Ventimiglia said. The night will feature the Glendale Riders and will have plenty of food and the beer tent and wine garden. Activities and games for adults will be open, and the baseball game will show on a giant screen.
The rest of the activities begin at 1 p.m. Saturday with an official keg-tapping. The keg comes straight from Germany, full of authentic German beer. Then the beer will flow — “the beer runs free until the first keg is empty,” Ventimiglia said. The beer tent and wine garden will be open, and the street will be full of games and inflatables for children. This year, Fredbird will appear from 6-7 p.m. There will also be silent and live auctions, a basket raffle, and a sweepstakes for $10,000. The parish will hold a vigil Mass at St. Mary’s on Saturday evening and an outdoor Mass in Garfield Park on Sunday morning.
Ventimiglia said one of the event’s highlights will be authentic German food such as skillet meals, potato pancakes and more — including Bavarian cream puffs and other desserts. The beer tent will have authentic German beers on tap as well as cans of domestic beer.
The planning committee has stayed largely the same since the event’s inception, with Ventimiglia as the chair for all but two of them. She says the team works well, and everybody knows exactly what to do to make the event happen.
“It makes my job a lot easier,” she said.
The event would not be possible, however, without the help of many volunteers. With this amount of help, the event has grown and improved every year.
Oktoberfest has continued to bring community members together for the annual celebration. The event is the church’s biggest fund-raiser, bringing together alumni and parish members as well as welcoming the rest of the community.
“People come from as far as Germany,” Ventimiglia said.
She said it’s a good opportunity for parish members to reconnect with former pastors who have been reassigned to different churches but come back to celebrate Oktoberfest.
Ventimiglia said the public is welcome to attend.
“There’s something for everybody,” she said. “It’ll be fun for all ages.”