There’s plenty of German heritage on display during the Seymour Oktoberfest, but it’s not the only culture celebrated during the annual fall festival.

Sakura Helping Hands, a group of local Japanese women, once again will set up its craft booth at this year’s event in downtown Seymour.

The booth will be open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the corner of Chestnut and West Third streets near city hall.

Leading the group this year are Tomoyo Miyazaki, Eri Ando and Hiroko Takemura.

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Since last spring, the group, which consists of 29 women, has been busy making handmade items, such as origami ornaments, fabric flowers, crocheted sushi sets, stuffed fabric owls, jewelry, Halloween pieces and other traditional Japanese gifts.

One of the newest items this year is Japanese-themed place mats. There also is a wreath available crafted from the pages of a Japanese book.

In all, there will be nearly 800 pieces for sale.

Miyazaki said she and the other women enjoy making the crafts and having the opportunity to share their culture with their American “neighbors.”

This marks the 24th year for Sakura Helping Hands to have a booth at the Oktoberfest, which is celebrating its 44th anniversary.

Oktoberfest transforms downtown Seymour into a street carnival complete with rides, games, entertainment, contests, crafts, a beer garden and lots of food.

The Japanese booth is a popular stop for many festivalgoers, many of whom come every year to purchase something different to add to their collections at home, Miyazaki said.

Members of Sakura Helping Hands are the wives of Japanese men who are here working at local industries, such as Aisin and Seymour Tubing. Typically, they live here for a year at a time and then travel back to Japan.

Working at the booth also allows the women to interact and converse with people to practice their English.

Each year, proceeds from the group’s booth are donated to nonprofit organizations in the community, such as Seymour Community Schools, Jackson County Public Library, Read Jackson County, Schneck Medical Center and Seymour Parks and Recreation Department.

Last year, the group donated $2,500 to the city of Seymour, and that was to be used to purchase cherry blossom trees to plant downtown.

If you go

What: Sakura Helping Hands Oktoberfest craft booth

When: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Where: Corner of Chestnut and Third streets near Seymour City Hall

Proceeds benefit various local causes, including Seymour Community Schools, Jackson County Public Library, Read Jackson County, Schneck Medical Center and Seymour Parks and Recreation Department.

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