Octoberfest in March has record attendance
Christ Lutheran Church’s 6th Annual Octoberfest in March brought thousands out to enjoy authentic German food, music and fun over the weekend at the Shell Factory & Nature Park. In fact, it was record attendance, said organizer Don Ostrowsky.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the attendance and the potential it gave us for fund raising for the community,” he said. Proceeds go to area organizations that provide food for those in need, including soup kitchens and Meals On Wheels. “Over the last five years $50,000 has been raised,” he added. “Everyone has been having a great time.”
On Sunday, the event was kicked off with a Polka Worship service with hundreds enjoying the music throughout the service. “It was our largest service under the tent in six years,” Ostrowsky said.
Deacon Tom Hafer, Youth and Family Minister, led the service. “We are 210 volunteers strong. The monies that are raised are a direct response to the love we have for the community first.”
In his closing prayer, he talked about the beautiful weather, food and music and how the funds will help those in need. “What a way to spend three days. Let’s do more of these.”
Grant Kozera and Jeff Winard played accordions for the service, with singer Lori Solberg and Doug Krueger on banjo.
Music throughout the weekend was a big draw at the festival, and helped the event have record attendance, said Ostrowsky. Several polka music legends played at the event.
Bob Kravos – the great nephew of Frank Yankovic – played and displayed an antique Button Box accordion. “My great uncle was a wonderful mentor, he showed me the ropes. He played on this Button Box accordion, it was also called a Cheese Box.”
Krovos has been playing the accordion himself for 36 years and said he enjoyed the local crowds. “The event had great people, a lot of dancing and fantastic camaraderie.”
Walter Ostanek – three-time grammy winner and “Canada’s Polka King” – was joined by The Yankovic Sound and The Boys In The Band. He and wife Irene enjoyed the polka service. When asked his favorite polka, he said, “It’s hard to say, there are so many great ones, but if I had to go with one it would be “Just Because.”
Authentic German food was a favorite of festival goers. The Church’s “chief chef” Francois Prudhomme said there was nothing but raves. “Schnitzel was the big seller,” he said.
“Everyone loved the potato pancakes, too,” said the church’s Roger Nelson, who manned that booth with helper Deb Kellermann.
Helen and Paul Koch, who visit from New Jersey and stay in the Naples area said they have attended the event for several years. It’s worth the trip from the south, they said. “The food is very good, especially the bratwurst,” said Paul.
“Very authentic,” said Helen.
“The dancing is the best part,” said Betty Lauorlowski and partner Ray Tibbets, who rarely sat one out Sunday afternoon.
German beer was also popular. “We broke the beer record on Saturday,” said volunteer Sandy Leathers.
This was the first year the Cape Coral-based church held the event at The Shell Factory & Nature Park, to handle attendance that has grown ever year. “The move has been tremendous,” said Ostowsky.
“We were thrilled to have the Octoberfest on the Shell Factory grounds particularly since the proceeds benefit local charities like the Soup Kitchen. Don Ostrowsky has been amazing to work with and is a promoter extraordinaire, Christ Lutheran Church is fortunate to have him,” added Shell Factory owner Pam Cronin.