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Celebrating October in Guilford

Published 10/09/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 10/08/2013 04:42 PM

By Karena Garrity
Guiford Courier

Pick up your lederhosen from the dry cleaners and get ready for the first-ever Shoreline Oktoberfest at the Guilford Fairgrounds. Hosted by the St. George's Men's Group, the Shoreline Oktoberfest, the largest of its kind in Connecticut, will be a three-day extravaganza of fun, dance, merriment, beer, and family entertainment.

On Oct. 18, 19, and 20, the fairgrounds will transform into a German scene of celebration. Under 33,000 feet of tent-covered space, visitors will find bratwurst, apple strudel, Black Forest cake, beehive cake with Bavarian cream filling, 500 kegs of German-imported Hofbrauhaus Munche Beer, a schnapps bar, a midway full of colorful rides, wiener dog races, traditional Schuhplattler dancing, keg rolls, spouse carrying races, face painting, and petting zoos.

This celebration has been in the works since August and the 30-member-strong St. George's Men's Group hopes it will become an annual event. The group itself will celebrate its first-year anniversary in November and wanted to plan something fun that would involve the entire community and beyond to raise money for local, regional, and national charities. To date, the organization has donated more than $30,000 to a variety of different non-profits.

"We saw a need and there are a lot of successful men here in the community, so we decided to get together and do some good work to raise money and serve our community. We try to partner with non-profits that we can connect with and that need our help," explained the group's member director, Andrew Horn.

Horn just happens to be part of the German Dance Group called H.S.V. Bavaria. Using his inside contacts he got the ball rolling for the Oktoberfest. All monies raised at this will be equally divided and donated to the Wounded War Project, a national charity; the Autism Society of Connecticut; and St. George's Church.

"People have the misconception that Oktoberfests are all about beer, but in reality they are very traditional, family-centered events. Yes, there is beer there, but that is only a portion of the entire gathering," pointed out Horn, who has performed at several Oktoberfests throughout the country with his dance group.

The "real" Oktoberfest, which has been celebrated since 1810 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, is the single largest fair in the world; it is a 16-day celebration that attracts more than 6 million people each year. At Guilford's celebration, things will kick off Friday night at 5 p.m. with a keg-tapping ceremony. Twelve bands will perform throughout the weekend, on three different stages, including 18-time Grammy Award-winning artist Jimmy Sturr and his orchestra with special guest Chris Caffery of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.

WPLR radio station will be on hand to get things going, a car cruise will take place Friday night and Sunday afternoon, and face painting and a petting zoo will be open all three days for the little ones. A bevy of traditional German fare, such as German pretzels, Weisswurst, knockwurst, and sauerkraut will be served up alongside food trucks offering a wide variety of other tasty tidbits for those who aren't fans of all things "wurst"-like.

Children who bring three canned goods to be donated to local food banks will be able to decorate or carve a pumpkin of their choice in the pumpkin patch and men and women will be able to try their luck at strong competitions, hay bale tosses, and musical chairs.

"We are expecting this to be a wonderful family event that becomes an annual celebration and fundraiser for years to come," said Horn, who encourages everyone to come out for the weekend and enjoy a little bit of far away Germany, right here in Guilford.

Tickets are on sale online for a discount; at the door, tickets are $12 for patrons aged 21 and older, seniors are $10, 16 to 20 are $5, and children 15 and younger are free. Three-day passes are also available for $24. For more information, visit

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