Although food plays a big role in the Seymour Oktoberfest, the downtown street festival also gives local people and businesses a chance to shine.

During the opening ceremonies for the 43rd annual event Thursday night, several people took home awards and prizes for their contributions and talents.

Named prince and princess were Jacob Mikel, 6, son of Jayme and Ashley Mikel of Seymour, and Payton Barlow, 9, daughter of Josh Barlow and Amanda Ruddick, also of Seymour.

The two raised the most money by setting out donation cans at businesses for the Beta Kappa chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha sorority. Proceeds from the contest support local, state and international charities, including Camp Riley for children with disabilities, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Easter Seals, Reins to Recovery Therapeutic Riding Center, Community Provisions food pantry and Jackson County Special Education Parents Advisory Council. 

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Jacob and Payton both received new bicycles and helmets, along with gift bags stuffed with other goodies. They also got to wear a crown and tiara and will ride in today’s Oktoberfest parade.

The prizes may have been nice, but both said they liked raising money to help other people.

“I raised $200,” Jacob said. “We set up cans and asked friends and family to donate.”

“He was very excited and is ready for the parade,” Ashley Mikel said. “I asked him if he wanted to do it because his big sister was princess a few years ago.”

Payton collected $1,700 this year. She also was excited about raising the most money, especially because it’s her last year to be eligible to compete, she said.

Amanda Ruddick said she won the contest when she was younger, so her daughter asked her if she could try back in 2012.

“She wound up losing that year, but she raised an amazing amount of money, around $2,300,” Ruddick said.

Payton said she went door-to-door, set up cans at businesses and even had some businesses do some fundraising for her this year.

“We are super proud of her,” Ruddick said.

Other contestants in the contest were Shealynn Williams, Maeleigh Banister and Lariah Neal.

This year’s baking contest winners also were announced during the opening ceremonies. Winners in the pie category were first place, Lavena Hauer; second, Michelle Nichter; and third, Sherry Fisher. In the cake division, Kathy Nelson won first place; Paul Kedrowitz, second; and Mindy Murray, third. Children’s category winners were Alexys Thompson, Shayla Thompson and Emalyn Self.

The contest is sponsored by Kemper CPA Group LLP in Seymour.

To help get downtown businesses involved with the festival, the Oktoberfest committee sponsors a window-decorating contest. This year’s first-place award went to new business Beautiful Chaos, a paint and craft store; second to Victorian Doll House of Style, a salon; and third to the Seymour Senior Center.

The final awards of the evening were for booths. The best food or activity booth award went to JS Concessions for its funnel cakes with toppings, and second place was awarded to Zion Lutheran Church’s apple dumplings. Best arts and crafts booth was Simply Alpha Photos, owned by Samantha Franklin of Seymour, with second place going to Diane Stuckwisch.

The new-booth award was presented to Little Bear Taxidermy, owned by Jeremy French of Seymour.

Also during the opening ceremonies, the Seymour High School Marching Owls, made up of nearly 200 students, performed for the crowd, playing a medley of popular songs from the 1970s through today. They wrapped up their set with a traditional beer barrel polka and the chicken dance.

Band director Kevin Cottrill said he and the students look forward to the concert every year.

The band also can be seen marching in today’s parade.

Sophomore Quentin Warren, who plays the flute, said getting to perform at the Oktoberfest is a highlight for the band.

“I loved performing in front of all the people and the great Oktoberfest atmosphere,” he said.

But like many, Quentin said he keeps going back to the festival for one main reason — the sati-babis.

“My favorite part is the great tasting and large variety of food,” he said.

Sophomore Sergio Galicia said seeing the crowd that comes out for the concert shows how many people like and support the band.

“I love how diverse our selections are,” he said. “We play all kinds of different music from our halftime shows and other favorites.”

Sergio said he also likes the diversity of the festival and how it benefits the community.

“I love trying all the different kinds of foods from different places,” he said. “I think it’s great to see our community come together for something like this every year.”

Senior Kaitlyn Knight said she enjoys performing at the Oktoberfest because the festival has been a tradition in her family for many years.

“As a child, I remember watching with anticipation when the day would come that I could perform with the band at the Oktoberfest,” she said.

Besides the concert, she also likes marching in the parade.

“That is my favorite thing about the festival because it is such a big part of our community and grows more and more every year,” she said.

At a glance

2015 Seymour Oktoberfest

Prince and princess contest

Jacob Mikel, 6, son of Jayme and Ashley Mikel, and Payton Barlow, 9, daughter of Josh Barlow and Amanda Ruddick

Baking contest

Pies: First, Lavena Hauer; second, Michelle Nichter; and third, Sherry Fisher

Cakes: First, Kathy Nelson; second, Paul Kedrowitz; and third, Mindy Murray

Children’s category winners: Alexys Thompson, Shayla Thompson and Emalyn Self

Window-decorating contest

First place, Beautiful Chaos, a paint and craft store; second, Victorian Doll House of Style, a salon; and third, Seymour Senior Center

Booth awards

Best food or activity booth: First place, JS Concessions, funnel cakes with toppings; second, Zion Lutheran Church apple dumplings

Best arts and crafts booth: First place, Simply Alpha Photos, owned by Samantha Franklin of Seymour; second, Diane Stuckwisch

Best new booth: Little Bear Taxidermy, owned by Jeremy French of Seymour

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