Crowds revel in German celebration
By JUDY SHERARD
Though the wind cooled things down by mid-afternoon, weather wasn't a factor for the 41st annual Oktoberfest in Frontier Park on Friday.
Denise Angell, Ellis, was one of those who arrived early and enjoyed the morning's mild temperatures and moderate wind. She attends every year for the "bierocks and good food."
This year, she brought along her friend, Louisa Ytuarte, who was visiting from Clayton, N.M.
It was Ytuarte's first Oktoberfest, and she enjoyed sampling the German food.
Tom Haas gave the Volga German Society welcome for the opening ceremony.
Many in the audience nodded in understanding as Haas relayed his grandfather's advice in German.
"Child, keep your word," he later translated. "If you don't keep your word, what you put in writing is worth even less."
Oktoberfest is held in conjunction with Fort Hays State University Homecoming in partnership with several groups.
FHSU president Edward Hammond, Hays Mayor Kent Steward and Ellis County Commissioner Barbara Wasinger each greeted those attending.
The Ellis County Historical Society is a more recent partner in the event.
The Society is pleased to "help present this rich German heritage that we have in this location," Don Westfall, ECHS director, said.
Haas returned to the microphone to present awards on behalf of the Volga German Society to Leona Pfeifer, as co-founder of the first Oktoberfest, Joe Dolezal and Galen Schmidtberger, as the official Oktoberfest polka band, and Marion and Donna Schmidt, owners of Blue Sky Miniature Horse Farm for participating in the event for the past 18 years.
Master of ceremonies Mike Cooper also acknowledged Eleanor Schippers for her contribution as "queen of Oktoberfest."
The tapping of the keg by Steward signaled the end of the ceremony.