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Get out your leiderhosen: Springville goes German for Oktoberfest

SPRINGVILLE — Springville will taste like Little Germany on Sept. 21, when the eighth annual Oktoberfest takes over Fireman’s Park on Waverly Street. From 2-10 p.m., visitors can make like they’re in Munich as they wash down specially-made sausages with 13 different beers and a selection of wines, listen to three separate bands and check out the classic car show, the apfel dessert contest, costume contest and more. Jeanne Ellis, who brought the idea back from Germany after living there for seven years, said that she modeled the event after the original Munich festival, right down to Springville Mayor William Krebs’ tapping the first keg.

“My birthday is Sept. 30, so I always went to the festival in Germany for my birthday,” Ellis said, about where she got the idea. “In Springville, it’s always the last weekend in September, but we had to move it up a weekend, this year, to accommodate the Frankfurters, our German band. It just so happened that our festival is opening day in Munich, where the mayor will tap the first keg. So they might be eight hours ahead of us, but we’re following right behind.”

Although the festival has been running for eight years now, Ellis said it took some time to really get off the ground.

“The first year, we had it in Sprague Brook Park and people would ask, ‘Why is the Springville festival in Glenwood?’ The next year, the stock market crashed. Then we had [bad] weather. It’s just one thing after another,” she said, of early struggles. “But last year, they came out in droves. It’s really taken off.”

The Oktoberfest is primarily geared toward adults, although there will be a balloon hat-maker and face painting, for those who bring the kids or adults who are kids at heart, themselves. Ellis said that insurance costs prevent more kid-friendly events, since the presence of alcohol raises the risk and associated price.

“We’re trying to perfect what we have,” she said, of the festival offerings.

Those will include an apfel dessert contest, for which entries have to be in place by 4 p.m., must contain apples and must not be made by a professional chef. A hot dog-eating contest, sponsored by Zweigel’s will slather on the mustard at 5 p.m. and the best German costume contest will be announced by the Frankfurter’s at 7 p.m., for those who want to challenge Krebs’ legendary leiderhosen.

“I’ve got Mark Maussner wearing my hot dog costume, this year,” Ellis said, with a laugh. “It’s going to be a hoot because he’s so tall, he’ll just be this big, gangly wiener walking around.”

The Springville Jazz Orchestra will take the stage from 2-4:30 p.m., followed by blues act Soul Barbecue from 4:30-6 and the Frankfurters from 6-10 p.m. For the less musically inclined, a European classic car show will be set up from 2-6 p.m., as well.

Springville Area Chamber of Commerce Director David Field said that the event has just been getting bigger and bigger, since it first began, and that from his perspective, it’s one of the village’s main events of the year.

“It’s a very labor-intensive event that brings a lot of people to Springville, more so than any other event we have,” he said. “Two years ago was the first time it was what I would call really successful. Last year was off the charts. We hope that this year’s Oktoberfest is even better than that.”

Springville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Erika Thurkins said that she first learned of the Oktoberfest’s importance for the chamber and the community when she was first interviewed for the director position she took, earlier this year. As her involvement with the SACC has grown, so has her level of excitement, about the event.

“I’ve been really impressed with the planning process, and the extent of collaboration and interest amongst our members and community,” Thurkins said. “Many people have been anxious to get involved and help hone the event, to make it even better.”

Ellis said that this year, local outfits are getting in on the action, including the Meat Shoppe’s making a special, 20 percent veal bratwurst from a Maussner family recipe, especially for the event.

“People can’t expect to go into the [Springville butcher shop] and buy this sausage,” Ellis added. “He does sell bratwurst, but this is just for us. We’re going to be selling that, as well as two sausages from Spars and Zweigels’ new white hots.”

The Maussner sausage will also be taken out of the casing and patted into a burger, to be sold on a pretzel roll. Homemade sauerkraut and German potato salad will also be available.

In the true spirit of Oktoberfest, Ellis said that there will be 13 different beers on tap, including one that older residents may remember from their earliest drinking days.

“Saranac Brewing Company is re-brewing Utica Club, which the 60s and olders used to drink in high shcool, when the drinking age was still 18. That should really take them back,” she said.

In addition, sponsor Gordon Biersch will provide three kegs and the festival will also feature Labatt Blue; Budweiser Light; Shocktop; Paulaner German Hefeweis; Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold; Flying Bison Oktoberfest; Sam Adams Oktoberfest; Spaten’s Oktoberfest, Ale and the darker Optimator. In addition, the festival has added several wines, this year, for a the expanding palate Ellis has noticed over the years.

“More people brings a wider palate, so we’re expanding our wines,” she explained.

This year, Merritt Winery will feature a Rieseling, Gewurztraminer and their Chautauqua White and Liberty Vineyards will offer their Chardonnay and dry Riesling.

As the planning committee gets closer to the event, Ellis and Field agreed that they have the mechanism in place, to work out the kinks they discovered, along the way.

Since the planning committee has eight years of planning under its belt, Field said that the process is fairly rote, at the basic level.

“We know what needs to be done and when. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen the day off, a few days before. We’re always learning new stuff, trying new stuff and we’re always open to new ideas,” he added. “Everything’s in place that can be, at this point. We’re just hoping for a beautiful day.”

Ellis said that, this year, she will have parking attendants directing attendees on where to put their cars, since space can be limited, within the village center.

“I met with [Springville Highway Superintendent] Karl Lux and we’re getting parking attendants out there, to help people,” Ellis said. “People need to look for signs, telling them where to park. They also need to obey the ‘no parking’ signs. We’re going to have as many parking volunteers as we can.”

The organizer noted that, while parking might be easier in a different spot, like back at Sprague Brook, the cooking facilities the fire department has at hand make the Fireman’s Park a better option.

“Our food is all fresh products, and they have to be cooked fresh,” Ellis said. “We’re not doing smoked sausage or prepared foods. So, to maintain that quality, we need to have that space, as well.”

As for Thurkins, she said that she is just excited to get to see the event, firsthand.

“I know that Oktoberfest is a big deal for Springville, so really, I am just excited to experience it and join in the celebration!”

The SACC can be reached at 592-4746 for more information or volunteer opportunities. The chamber website also features contest rules and more details on the schedule for the day, at


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2013-09-24 | 17:52:32
I like the Halloween picutre