On Thursday, Vice Mayor James Meier participated in a stein exchange in downtown Westport with Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner to kick off the neighborhood’s first Oktoberfest celebration. Also in attendance — in full German attire — were Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Melissa Dixon, Convention and Sales Manager Janet Kuhn, and Catharine residents Leo and Viola Dorzweiler.

"I was very lucky to have the privilege of representing the City of Hays,” Meier said. “It was an incredible opportunity to promote our community. But I am most fortunate to have been able to spend time with Leo and Viola Dorzweiler. I'm so thankful they were willing to come along as ambassadors of our community. What a priceless asset they are to Hays."

At Thursday’s ceremony, a traditional German whip was cracked to ward off evil spirits, and representatives from the Consulate of Germany in Kansas City presented a letter from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, several Westport streets were blocked off for festivities. Hays CVB staff set up tents and greeted festival attendees with information about Hays tourism, as well as the 45th annual Hays Oktoberfest, which will take place Friday.

NCK Tech’s Culinary Arts program provided 200 spitzbuben, German Christmas cookies, to give away at the Hays booth.

The Dorzweilers, who have been married 62 years, brought their own dance floor and taught polka steps to visitors while hand-picked accordion music played.

“We were honored when the event planners called to invite Hays to participate, and we were more than happy to make the trip to showcase all that Hays has to offer visitors,” Dixon said.

The Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau is located in the Hays Welcome Center, 2700 Vine. For additional information about the CVB or community events, call (785) 628-8202 or visit www.visithays.com.