The Ottumwa Courier

September 27, 2012

Oktoberfest: A taste of tradition

Festival sticks with what works, adds a couple of twists

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Brats and beer may be an Ottumwa tradition, and that won’t change at Oktoberfest 2012 next week. But for those who’d like to try something a little different, the big tent will also offer some very specific wines.

“They have to be native Iowa wines, that’s the rule,” said Jack Guiter, chairman of the Oktoberfest committee. “This is the first year [we will serve] wine.”

Organizers said they’ve picked just a few Iowa wines this first year. But can any wine possibly go with a brat?

“It does for me,” said Guiter, who said others have told him they like the combination, too.

“Well, when Hy-Vee has done their wine tastings [at the Oktoberfest tent], I recall [an event where] they focused on German wine and beer,” hesaid.

Those hearty German wines were really nice with a brat, he added. But for those who like beer, Guiter said, there will be more German-style Oktoberfest beers  for 2012 — served in a bigger cup.

Of course, since the event is based on tradition, there are some things Guiter said never change.

“Our brats. The way we cook our brats, people really like them. We still use Johnsonville brats as we have for years, and we cook them over a blend of wood, wood and charcoal.”

Another part of Ottumwa’s Oktoberfest the chairman said has not changed is the “community” aspect of this community event. Everyone is always welcome, whether at the parade, the carnival or the Oktoberfest tent, where the committee works to keep things affordable. And as a popular non-profit event, the help comes pretty cheap: Everyone from the chairman to the neighbor cooking your brat is a volunteer.

Guiter said there will be bands Wednesday through Saturday night. For those who really love tradition, an oompah band will play 6-7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Oktoberfest kiddie parade will return next Friday as well — 6 p.m. — with the parade commencing at the corner of Washington and Main streets.

And next Saturday, at 10 a.m., the Oktoberfest parade gets under way in downtown Ottumwa with several entries and numerous marching bands from the area.

Attendees don’t have to buy anything, nor is there an admission fee. But the money raised through the event is donated to back to the community to do good works.

“We’ve been doing this for 39 years,” Guiter said. “We [get] one week to raise funds to give away to charitable causes.”

Rotary Chicken Barbecue Tuesday

For more than 30 years, the unofficial start to Oktoberfest week has been the Ottumwa Rotary annual Chicken Barbecue.

Expect the smoky smell of cooking chicken from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot on Market Street, right next to the Oktoberfest tent.

Tickets are available from Rotary members.