Crowds turn out for event kick-off
The scent of cooked sausage and bratwurst saturated the evening air.
Tubas and accordions belted polka tunes.
Frothy beers were poured.
Dancing shoes warmed the ground.
As Cape Coral trickled down the west leg of Pine Island Road and into the gates of the German-American Social Club Friday evening, Oktoberfest began.
Oktoberfest: an opportunity to pull the lederhosen (or dirndl) out of the closet and celebrate German heritage — or just eat, drink and dance with 30,000 of your closest neighbors.
“It’s very uplifting, it really is,” said Evelyn Dolinak, savoring the grouper sandwich she sat down to eat with her husband, Ray, at an outside dining table in the Bavarian Garden.
Ray decided on a Philly steak sandwich. He’d be sure to get a sausage before the dual-weekend event came to a close, he added.
“Camaraderie, music (and) food” are the things Ray said drew the Cape Coral couple to Oktoberfest over the past 10 years.
“Everybody is really nice,” Ray said. “They’re really super helpful. Park your car, come inside and have a ball.
“We’d recommend it to anybody.“
“We love to watch the people dance,” Evelyn said. “It is so enjoyable.“
Evelyn and Ray wanted to latch arms and dance to the polka music they so enjoyed, but played it safe Friday because of a recent surgery on Ray’s leg.
“He would love to get out there and dance,” Evelyn said.
“You hear the music and you want to go,” Ray said.
But the Dolinaks agreed watching was fun, and safe, enough.
The Dolinaks would be back before the festivities were over.
“We’ll be back this Sunday if there’s no rain,” Ray said.
The first night of Oktoberfest began at 4 p.m. Friday and ran until about midnight, according to the schedule of events.
Polka-duo Peter & Edith kept event-goers circling the dance floor under a large dining tent, switching off with the German-native horn ensemble Maselheimer Musikanten.
Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen, a music group out of Iowa, echoed the sounds of accordions, tubas, saxophones and rhythm-banging drums through the Bavarian Gardens.
Three kitchens will offer various traditional German dishes such as sausage, leberkaese, German potato pancakes, bratwurst, knockwurst and wienerwurst throughout the event.
German beers such as Warsteiner and Koenig Ludwig Weiss will be served. Domestic brews such as Budweiser and Amber Bock are also available.
“We have everything we had last year, and we have more,” said event chairman Paul Mills. “We are hoping for about 30,000.“
Mills said most people would likely show up later Friday evening, after getting off of work.
In hopes of adding more faces to the party, the German American Club offered a buy-one-get-one-free deal on tickets Friday, but the deal was only for one night, Mills said.
People, it seemed, were enjoying themselves, Mills said.
“It’s exciting to see the tents full of people eating, the music… everyone having a great time,” he said.
Oktoberfest runs through this weekend and the long weekend of Oct. 23-25, and is held at the German-American Social Club at 2101 S.W. Pine Island Road.
Tickets are $6 at the door.
The event begins today and next Saturday noon; next Friday at 4 p.m.; and this and next Sunday at 11 a.m., running late into the night.
Money raised from the event will go towards donations to organizations such as Salvation Army, Hope Hospice, the Mayoral Scholarship Fund, the Boy and Girl Scouts of America and the Police Explorers.