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Oktoberfest under way

By Staff | Oct 19, 2017

Every year, Oktoberfest is nothing less than a six-day party, a celebration of German heritage from the music to the beer.

The 32nd annual Oktoberfest kicks off today at the German American Social Club at 2101 Pine Island Road and, assuming the weather stays nice, it promises to be the biggest yet.

On Wednesday, the German American Social Club kicked off this celebration with, well, a celebration at Von Steuben Hall, featuring Maselheimer Musikanten, the big musical act at this year’s event, food, drink, local dignitaries and proclamations from the city and county by Mayor Marni Sawicki and city Councilmember Marilyn Stout.

Teresa Kohl, co-chairperson of Oktoberfest, said she is hoping for continued good weather, which they have gotten the last two years, resulting in attendance totals of 36,000 to 38,000.

“When we have good weather, everything happens. We need that,” Kohl said. “We’re the first big event in Cape Coral and we have always done things for the city and community. We want people to have a good time, we don’t cater to politics, we want you to eat, drink and be merry.”

Another featured attraction will be Christine Fay, Ms. Oktoberfest, who serves as the Goodwill Ambassador for the event.

“I’m going to be dancing with everyone who shows up, having a few beers, enjoying the great bands and welcoming everyone,” Fay said. “I’m really excited. I need to learn a few German dances and even take a few minutes for myself sometimes. But, I’m going to be myself, have a good time and meet a lot of new people.”

Angela Telewick, Ms. Oktoberfest 1998, the most senior member of that group who returns, said she has helped Fay with her job, and that the fellowship brings her back every year.

“It’s good times, fun, family. People who become family. Christine is a friend of mine and I’ve helped her speak German. She’s doing very well,” Telewick said.

This will be the last Oktoberfest for Sawicki as mayor, who has had the honor of tapping the first keg.

“Over the last four years I’ve gotten to know so many of these members and they are great community partners and great people. That’s why it keeps getting bigger every year,” Sawicki said. “I love tapping the keg and the symbolism of it. I love being the Burgermeister.”

Juergen Schmidt, a retired Cape Coral fire fighter, has been coming to Oktoberfest since 1993 because of something called “Gemuetlichkeit,” a feeling of warmth.

“It brings people together in celebration. There is no fighting and the people are melting together from all over,” Schmidt said, a member of the club since 1995. “You see the traditional outfits, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Elisa Coy, a former member of the club, returns every year to volunteer. A native of the Dominican Republic, she said she works the main bar, serving beer.

“It’s a cultural event and a good place to hang out. It’s family friendly and everyone enjoys it,” Coy said. “I love everything about it. I’ve been coming since 2008 and it gets better every year.”

Oktoberfest starts at 4 p.m. today, with the grand opening parade at 8, and runs to midnight. Saturday the event will run from noon to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. for church service to “whenever,” though the final act goes on in the tent at 8 p.m.

The festival continues on the same schedule next week.

For more information, go to www.capecoraloktoberfest.com.