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Oktoberfest offers music, food, football

Eclectic mix includes sounds of oom-pah and Nashville — with German fare and Iowa broadcast

September 16, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, , Messenger News

Get ready for the sauerbraten, practice your polka moves or just come for the football game. The fourth annual Oktoberfest will be held at the Oleson Park bandshell Saturday, sponsored by Shellabration Inc.

Vendors will sell traditional German foods and beers, and two polka bands will bring dance music to put the outdoor wooden dance floor to good use. There will also be a live broadcast of the Iowa vs. Central Michigan game. The headliner band will be the non-polka-related, Nashville country-rock band Mustang Sally.

"It's what I would call the perfect crossbreed between a German Oktoberfest and a good old American concert," said Jim Reed, president of Shellabration.

Flavor for the event will be provided by vendors serving traditional foods.

"One thing we strive to do with Oktoberfest is give it a German culinary flair," Reed said.

Three of the five vendors - Tea Thyme, Hy-Vee and the Willow Ridge Restaurant - have been with Oktoberfest since the beginning, he said.

Fact Box

If you go:

WHAT: Oktoberfest 2012

WHEN: Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: Oleson Park Bandshell

TICKETS: $8; kids 12 and under are free. Available at the gate, Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Drugstore,, or by calling (866) 468-3401

BANDS: Karl and the Country Dutchmen, noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 5:30 p.m.; Wendinger Band, 2 to 4 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m.; Mustang Sally, 7:30 to 11 p.m.

FOR more information, see

"Tea Thyme will be serving sauerbraten. That's a marinated beef roast, it's a very traditional German dish," he said. "They serve that with coarse mashed potatoes with sour cream and gravy, and a sweet and sour red cabbage. They also have German chocolate cupcakes and, I believe, black forest cupcakes."

Hy-Vee will serve traditional bratwursts and hamburgers for the less adventurous, he said.

The Iowa Central Community College culinary students at Willow Ridge will be preparing a "Beer-basted Bavarian boar," said Gabe Kellner, Willow Ridge general manager. "Basically, pork sandwiches," he explained.

Also on the menu is hahn-chenkeule - or blackened chicken leg, soft pretzels with dipping sauce and strudel.

Two non-profit groups will serve food this year, aided by Northern Lights Distributing, Reed said. The ICCC bowling team will serve German cream of potato soup out of a bread bowl as well as tropical smoothies. The Fort Dodge Stoneware Museum will serve a Bavarian bratwurst burger on a pretzel bun.

German flair

"When we first envisioned Oktoberfest, we wanted to have a German flair for it, like the real McCoy," Reed said. "We knew we wanted good solid oom-pah or polka bands, we wanted to have a wooden dance floor, we knew we wanted have a good variety of seasonal beers including German beers like Beck's Oktoberfest."

Reed said he visited the Midwest Polka Fest in Humboldt to find out how to build an outdoor dance floor.

"We went out and priced it, and made the decision that if we're going to do it, we'll do it right," he said. "It's fairly straightforward; it's just a lot of manual labor moving 100-plus sheets of plywood and putting down the infrastructure underneath it. You get all the pieces to line up and then screw it down. Then five hours later you have to unscrew it and put it back in the trailer. It's a lot of work for a day's worth of entertainment."

It can also be a trick to find good polka bands. There aren't as many of them as there once were, and they're in high demand for other towns that want to do Oktoberfest.

"To get some of the ones we want, we have to book them two or three years out," he said.

The limiting factor in a good polka band is the accordion or concertina player, Reed said.

Karl and the Country Dutchmen, from Wisconsin, and the Wendinger Band, from Minnesota, will be the two polka bands this year. Both of them have accordion players in their respective state's Polka Hall of Fame, Reed said.

"These are two incredible bands that are very accomplished at this folk genre of music," he said. "People travel a long distance to hear this music. Last year we had people from Independence and the Des Moines area, so these bands are in demand."



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