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Celebrating traditions

10/1/2012

By ABBY BELDEN

By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

Oktoberfest and Fort Hays State University's Homecoming share more than just a weekend. The two events share the celebration of tradition.

The two events have shared a weekend since Oktoberfest was introduced to the Hays community in 1972. The Hays Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored the first one along 10th Street in downtown Hays.

Debra Prideaux, executive director of the FHSU Alumni Association, said the festival was so popular a larger venue was needed. The festival made a few moves, testing out different locations, until settling in Frontier Park.

"Oktoberfest is a wonderful way to celebrate the German heritage or German culture within this community," Prideaux said.

Prideaux added many FHSU alumni and friends come back for Oktoberfest and Homecoming.

"There is a lot of history, and there are individuals who have made every Oktoberfest," Prideaux said. "I have some alums, I know one in particular who has made 38 of them and again he's disappointed he can't come for the anniversary year, but people truly come back and engage."

Oktoberfest not only showcases and celebrates the German heritage in Hays, but also provides student groups of FHSU a way to raise funds.

Vince Bowhay, coordinator for student involvement and Greek life, said many of the student groups raise a majority of their money for the year at Oktoberfest.

Bowhay said there were 115 booths last year, including student and community booths.

Each student group has requirements and guidelines that have to be followed. Bowhay said one of those requirements is the student groups need to have their booth set up before 10 a.m. to avoid setting up during peak hours.

"They also can't use vulgar words," Bowhay added. "We had to do some restrictions on how they use the Fort Hays State identities like tigers or logos, which is typical for any other thing."

Bowhay said the student groups sometimes partner with an organization, or will sell food, T-shirts or "their kind of Oktoberfest collector's item."

This is the second year Trish Goetz, a graduate student in accounting, will be working with the FHSU student chapter of Association of Certified Fraud Examiners booth at Oktoberfest.

Goetz is now the president of organization, which sold T-shirts last year, but she said the shirts did not turn out as well as they wanted and did not sell well.

"We have some new designed T-shirts that we are actually using a higher quality of material for, so they'll sell better," Goetz said of items offered in this year's booth. "We are also selling water and tomato juice to turn your beer red. It's kind of a theme we are going with."

Themes are not uncommon at Oktoberfest.

Goetz said many student groups are known for what they sell, such as the finance club, which sells turkey legs.

"We'd like to get a theme to our Oktoberfest part of it, and we are hoping with the red beer, we can latch onto that and run with it for the following years as well," Goetz said.

To help promote the group's booth, Goetz said the group partnered with Budweiser. The company made a sign for the group that says "Turn Your Budweiser Red."

The 10-foot-by-3-foot sign, Goetz said, will be put fairly high above the booth so people can see it.

Goetz also added the water and tomato juice could be enjoyed by those who do not want to drink alcohol while attending Oktoberfest.

She said Oktoberfest is the event the group has prepared for the most and hopes the booth will be successful.

Goetz said a portion of the funds raised will go toward a national conference in Las Vegas. Six positions have been allocated by student government, but Goetz said she is hoping they can raise enough money to take additional organization members.

The student groups also are required to give 7 percent of their sales to the Volga German Society, Bowhay said.