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Memorial replaces Oktoberfest at fairgrounds





For 10 years, the third weekend in September has brought Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfest to Ellis County polka-enthusiasts. This year, although there will be no Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfest at the Ellis County Fairgrounds, music, dancing, food and beer will be part of a new September tradition.

The second annual Harold Dorzweiler Cancer Memorial fundraising event, held for the first time in April 2011, will replace the Oktoberfest celebration.

Polka bands will take to the stage at the Ellis County Fairgrounds on Sept. 15 and 16. Such local favorites as the Country Dutchmen Band, Hot Shots, Wes Windholz Band, and Karl Meis and Angie's Kids will perform throughout the weekend. In keeping with local tradition, dancing will be on the wooden floor.

Volga-German meals will be available for purchase both Saturday and Sunday. Ellis County Emergency Responder Rehab Unit will serve bierocks, brats and brisket Saturday. Sunday's wedding meal will be prepared by Helen Werth and Jeanette Pfannenstiel.

Food will be served starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, with dancing getting under way at about noon and continuing until 10 p.m. Polka Mass on Sunday will start at 10:30 a.m., with music after the service until 6 p.m.

The cancer benefit will closely resemble the first Harold Dorzweiler Cancer Memorial event in April 2011. However, it will differ from past Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfests in that no outdoor vendors will be set up at the fairgrounds.

People who enjoy a traditional Oktoberfest will be right at home at the event, said Leo Dorzweiler, former chairman of the Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfest. A beer garden will be inside the Unrein building and soft drinks will be available for purchase as well.

Admission to the event is $15 for Saturday and Sunday, $10 Saturday only and $7 Sunday only. There will be no admission fee for the polka Mass. Children younger than 16 will be admitted both days at no charge.

Funds raised through the event will be given to cancer victims to pay for travel or living expenses.

Janie Dorzweiler, event organizer, said she would encourage individuals who either are suffering with cancer and need some financial assistance, or those who know someone who is, to contact her to receive a form to apply for funds.

Last year's cancer benefit netted $10,000, which has been dispersed, Janie Dorzweiler said.

"I've had quite a few since last year when we did the fundraiser," Dorzweiler said. "That (fundraiser) helped 10 families, and as of now, it's 19 families."

The inspiration to raise funds for the families of cancer victims came to Janie Dorzweiler as she considered the stories she and her husband Harold heard from families of cancer victims as they spent time in medical office waiting rooms during Harold's cancer treatments in Kansas City. Harold Dorzweiler, died in September 2010.

"We'd sit there and we'd hear some patients say they didn't have money for fuel, they didn't have a place to stay, and it just broke our hearts," she said. "Harold and I talked and said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to be able to give to somebody, something positive to fight this cancer?'

"Because that's what it's all about."

Janie said it was her desire to see some good come about as a result of the difficulties she and Harold had faced. Knowing the spirit of giving that was central to Harold's personality, she began organizing the first fundraiser, hoping to make it an annual event.

Harold, who was band leader of the Country Dutchmen, shared his love of polka music with many folks throughout the Ellis County area.

In fact, much of Harold Dorzweiler's music lives on through one local musician, Karl Meis.

According to Janie Dorzweiler, her husband gave an electronic accordion as a gift to Meis two months before his death. Meis, she added, plays the instrument "Harold's style."

"He plays exactly like Harold," agreed Leo Dorzweiler, Harold's dad. "He's the only one that plays Harold's style.

"He's good."

Meis will be sharing his talent during Saturday and Sunday's polka performances.

Janie Dorzweiler said she encourages those who receive funds from the cancer memorial to go forward and "do something for somebody else."

"It doesn't have to be money. ... It can be any way," she said. "I say, now that we've helped you, pass it on."