The Seymour Oktoberfest is a celebration of the area’s German heritage, but a group of Japanese women use the annual fall festival as a platform to highlight and share their culture, too.

Sakura Helping Hands is proud and excited to be a part of the local tradition, now in its 45th year, by making and selling traditional Japanese arts, crafts and gifts.

This marks the 25th year for the group to be involved with Oktoberfest. The festival transforms downtown Seymour into a three-day street carnival complete with rides, games, entertainment, contests, crafts, a beer garden and lots of food.

Thousands of people attend Oktoberfest, making it the city’s biggest event.

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The Japanese booth is a popular stop for festivalgoers, many of whom come every year to purchase something different. It’s located on the corner of Chestnut and Third streets next to Seymour City Hall and will be open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Items for sale are handmade and include origami ornaments, seasonal fabric crafts, gifts and more. There are between 800 and 900 items this year, including some new products.

Leading the group this year are Takako Suzuki, Kaori Matsuba and Tomomi Takeuchi. In all, there are around 25 women in Sakura Helping Hands.

Members are the wives of Japanese men who are here working at industries in Seymour, such as Aisin and Seymour Tubing. Typically, they live here for a year or two and then return to Japan.

Working at the Oktoberfest booth allows the women to interact and converse with people to practice their English and share their culture with the community.

Each year, proceeds from the group’s booth are donated to not-for-profit organizations in the community, such as Seymour Community School Corp., Jackson County Public Library, Read Jackson County, Schneck Medical Center and Seymour Parks and Recreation Department.

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 School Corp., 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.