It takes a lot of hard work and dedicated people to stage the annual Seymour Oktoberfest.

From city workers and Oktoberfest committee members to church and nonprofit stand volunteers, everyone comes together to make sure the festival is a success.

This year marks the 43rd annual Seymour Oktoberfest, which pays homage to the city’s German heritage and represents a homecoming for many former residents.

Katrina Hardwick of Seymour said it’s one of her favorite times of the year.

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“I love seeing everyone smiling and having fun downtown,” she said. “Some of my best friends that moved away after high school always come back, so it’s a special time for me to spend time with them.”

She also looks forward to the Oktoberfest traditions she enjoys with her family.

“I love taking my son on the rides and doing the Tri Kappa cake walk,” she said. “And all of my family and friends gather on the corner by the American Legion to watch the parade together. It’s a very special time to be with the people I love.”

The festivities officially kick off a three-day run today with food and craft booths opening at 11 a.m.

Opening ceremonies will begin at 4:45 p.m. on the north stage at Third and Chestnut streets near city hall. The Seymour High School Marching Owls will perform from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m., followed by the announcement of booth, window decorating and baking contest award winners from 5:30 to 6 p.m., the crowning of the Oktoberfest prince and princess at 6 p.m. and a free concert by the Linda Smith Band from 8 to 10 p.m.

There are more than 70 food and activity booths at the Oktoberfest this year to keep people busy, said festival chairwoman Kay Schwade.

“From German-inspired food to a traditional Indiana tenderloin, you are sure to find something that will get your taste buds tingling,” she said.

Many booths are operated as fundraisers for local churches and community service groups.

Although the festival has grown over the years, attracting thousands of people to the downtown, much has stayed the same. One of the most popular attractions for those 21 and older is the official Seymour Oktoberfest biergarten, operated by the Knights of Columbus and located in the parking lot behind the former PNC Bank near Second and Walnut streets.

Spirits on tap include several domestic and craft brews, including four separate Oktoberfest blends and several types of wine.

The festival also boasts around 50 arts and crafts vendors, making and selling handmade items.

Debbie Engelking of Seymour said she loves walking through the arts and crafts booths and stopping by to check out the flea market in the parking lot of First United Methodist Church at Ewing and Fourth streets.

“There is a certain lady that sells scented candles and wax melts, and I hit her booth every year to stock up,” Engelking said.

She also enjoys the different food available because her tastes change from year to year, she said.

“It’s great the way our community joins together to make sure the Oktoberfest is a memorable event,” she said.

Another highlight of the festival is the activities and entertainment, most of which are free.

The Oktoberfest parade at 1:30 p.m. Saturday is one of the largest in the area. It features more than 100 entries, including bands, performers and floats. This year’s grand marshals are longtime Oktoberfest board members Martha McIntire, Kathy Mead and Bob Doriot, who retired after last year’s festival.

On Friday night, visitors can gather at Seymour High School for a hot-air balloon glow, weather permitting. The balloons will take off and compete in a race Saturday.

New this year is a stein hoist at 4 p.m. Saturday in the beer garden. The brat eating contest is at 6:30 p.m. on the north stage.

Those wanting to get more involved with German traditions can show off their dance skills in the polka and chicken dance contests at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the west stage. Schulhaus 4+3, a local German band, will provide the music.

Other free musical entertainment will include a performance by the band LemonWheel from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday on the north stage. LemonWheel is a cover band fronted by two female lead singers and features Seymour native Brian McKenna on bass. The group does a wide variety of covers of popular music from the 1970s to today.

Also performing on the north stage will be Jake Dodds at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

There also are plenty of activities to keep the kids busy and having fun during Oktoberfest, including carnival rides and games, painting and color activities at One Kids Square, face painting, a cake walk and sand art.

At a glance

43rd annual Seymour Oktoberfest

Today

10 a.m.: Baking contest (Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive)

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Food, activity and arts and craft booths open

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Biergarten open (West Second Street)

Noon to 4 p.m.: Kinderplatz Nummer Ein, free painting and coloring activities for kids (One Chamber Square)

4:45 p.m.: Opening ceremonies and Seymour High School band concert (North Stage)

5 to 11 p.m.: Carnival, ride bracelets $20 at ticket booth

5:30 p.m.: Booth, window decorating and baking contest awards (North Stage)

6 p.m.: Prince and princess contest (North Stage)

6 p.m.: Stars and Stripes Cloggers (South Stage)

6 to 8 p.m.: Baby contest registration (information booth)

6:30 to 10:30 p.m.: Schulhaus 4+3 German band and polka, bunny hop and chicken dance (West Stage)

7 to 11 p.m.: Bluegrass music (South Stage)

8 p.m.: Linda Smith Band (North Stage)

Throughout the day: Roving musicians Lester Tracy, organ grinder; Lost Mill String Band; Jim Cruise “The Spoon Man”

Friday

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Food, activity and arts and craft booths open

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Biergarten open (West Second Street)

Noon to 4 p.m.: Kinderplatz Nummer Ein, free painting and coloring activities for kids (One Chamber Square)

1 to 11 p.m.: Carnival, ride bracelets $20 at ticket booth, bracelets honored from 1 to 5 p.m.

5 p.m.: Brown Bouncing Bears (South Stage)

6 p.m.: Country Kickers (South Stage)

6 p.m.: Columbus Clogging Company (North Stage)

6 to 8 p.m.: Baby contest registration

6:30 to 10:30 p.m.: Schulhaus 4+3 German band and polka, bunny hop and chicken dance (West Stage)

7 p.m.: Polka and chicken dance contest registration (West Stage)

7 to 11 p.m.: Bluegrass music (South Stage)

7:30 p.m.: Polka and chicken dance contest (West Stage)

8 p.m.: LemonWheel (North Stage)

8 p.m.: Hot-air balloon glow (front of Seymour High School)

Throughout the day: Roving musicians Lester Tracy, organ grinder; Lost Mill String Band; Lawrence Von Essen, accordionist

Saturday

7 a.m.: Seymour Oktoberfest 5K Walk/Run registration (Seymour High School commons)

8 a.m.: Seymour Oktoberfest 5K Walk/Run (Seymour High School)

9 a.m.: Oktoberfest kids race, ¼- and ½-mile runs, free for 11 and under (Seymour High School)

9:20 a.m.: 5K awards (Seymour High School)

9:30 a.m.: Baby contest (North Stage)

10:30 a.m. to noon: Oktoberfest Horseshoe Tournament registration (Gaiser Park)

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Food, activity and arts and craft booths open

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Biergarten open (West Second Street)

Noon: Oktoberfest Horseshoe Tournament (Gaiser Park)

Noon to 4 p.m.: Kinderplatz Nummer Ein, free painting and coloring activities for kids (One Chamber Square)

1 to 11 p.m.: Carnival

1:30 p.m.: Seymour Oktoberfest parade (Community Drive, Second Street and Walnut Street)

2:30 to 4 p.m.: Schulhaus 4+3 German band (West Stage)

3 p.m.: These Fine Gentlemen (North Stage)

4 p.m.: Game of S.K.A.T.E. (Schurman-Grubb Memorial Skate Park)

4 p.m.: Seymour Oktoberfest Stein Hoist (Biergarten)

4:15 p.m.: Hot-air balloons arrive (behind Seymour High School)

4:30 p.m.: Cornerstone Community Church Praise Team (South Stage)

5 p.m.: Hot-air balloon race (behind Seymour High School)

5 p.m.: Presentation of parade trophies (North Stage)

6:30 p.m.: Brat eating contest (North Stage)

6:30 to 10:30 p.m.: Schulhaus 4+3 German band (West Stage)

7 to 11 p.m.: Bluegrass music (South Stage)

7:30 p.m.: Talent show (North Stage)

9:30 p.m.: Jake Dodds (North Stage)

Throughout the day: Roving musicians Lester Tracy, organ grinder; Jeff Russell, accordionist

On the Web

For information, visit seymouroktoberfest.com.

At a glance

Festival parking

General: A free shuttle service will be offered leaving from the Seymour High School parking lot today from 4 to 11 p.m. today, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and after the parade from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Handicap: Available in the A Total Tan parking lot at Indianapolis Avenue and Third Street or the parking lots at the Jackson County Public Library, Presbyterian church or Apostolic church

Bicycles: Available at Seymour High School (ride the shuttle) or in front of Larrison’s Diner, Seymour Police Department and B2 Bikes and Boards

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.