Oktoberfest brings slice of Germany to Carroll

On Saturday, rotary clubs around the county turned the inside of Shipley Arena into an Oktoberfest straight out of Germany.

The Shipley Arena is in the heart of Westminster, but on Saturday rotary clubs around the county turned the inside of the arena into an Oktoberfest straight out of Germany.

The Rotary Oktoberfest of Carroll County filled the Carroll County Agriculture Center facility with German food, beer, music, dancing, clothes and more. Attendees could stroll through different vendors in between getting beer and food. There were activities for kids and contests, including a cornhole competition and a beer stein holding competition.


"Well, there's no other event like this at all," said Dawn Wittfelt, chair of the Oktoberfest.

The rotary clubs added more games this year, including the cornhole tournament, as well as a football tent so that no one had to miss the day's football games, Wittfelt said.

"It's great fun for any age, anyone in the family," Wittfelt said.

It cost $5 to get into the event, which did not include beer or food. Attendees could buy admission packages that included pint glasses or a pitcher, plus tokens for beer. Wittfelt said all the proceeds of the event were going back to county programs, including scholarships.

In addition to German beer, the festival offered German food from Old World Catering. There were different types of sausage, including bratwurst, and other German meals. A selection of German cakes lined the tables where people got food.

Walter Shoup, of Westminster, was helping to serve the different cakes. One of the best sellers was the German chocolate, but he said his favorite of the day was the Bee Sting, or Bienenstich in German. It was one of the more authentic cakes the company offered Saturday, he said.

He's come to the Oktoberfest in Carroll every year, he said, though he added that the county's festival is more American than others he's gone to before.

"I think it's kind of different in that you don't have as many Germans," he said.

Die Immergrün Musikanten played German music while attendees drank their beer, ate and shopped. While the band took a break, Herb Fredricksen and members of the Bairisch und Steierisch dance company demonstrated folk dances.

Fredricksen said he's been performing folk dances for about 50 years. He's been to the Carroll County Oktoberfest three or four times, he said.

The folk dances the company demonstrated were all based on village dancing, he said. Each one is a couple dance, similar to ballroom dances, which are re-creations and iterations of the village dances, Fredricksen said.

The village dances are all different because the music and steps were not written down, so each company and village would interpret the dance, he said.

"If the music is unique, the dancing is unique," Fredricksen said.

Jerry and Bonnie Miller, of Rockville, were part of the dance company. Bonnie Miller said she has been dancing on and off since she was a child, adding that she has German heritage, which is why she dances German-style dances.


Jerry Miller is not of German descent, but he liked the culture, he said.

"With my last name being Miller, it could be Muller, so it could be German," he said jokingly.

Bonnie Miller said she likes the Oktoberfest, the best of which is the Gemütlichkeit, which translates to friendliness.

The Millers were not the only ones to experience the Gemütlichkeit of Oktoberfest. Michelle Justice, of Westminster, said she met people at the festival today because they sat near each other at the tables in the arena.

It was the first time Justice and her husband Richard attended Oktoberfest in the county, she said.

"It's a nasty day, and we knew they were doing this. We've been looking forward to coming," Justice said.

She lived a couple of years in Munich, Germany, which is where the original Oktoberfest is held. The Carroll County version is "cool," she said.

"They did a good job. The food is fantastic. The beer is good," she said.

She had tried the Rotary Oktoberfest beer and Essen Wheat beer offered at the festival, and she said she liked the wheat beer more. Beer was provided by Dog Beverage Company, according to the festival's website.

Dale Hiltner, of Eldersburg, in one of the two lines to try the beer, said he saw the festival on Facebook and with the dreary weather decided to give it a shot.

"[It's] pretty neat. [I'm] excited to eat some German food and drink some German beer," Hiltner said.

It was his first time at the Carroll County Oktoberfest and his first time at any Oktoberfest event. His first impression of the Carroll festival was that it was "very open. Very noisy, but it's pretty neat to see all these people, things going on," he said.

The Rotary Oktoberfest of Carroll County will continue on Sunday at Shipley Arena.

If you go:

What: Rotary Oktoberfest of Carroll County

Where: Shipley Arena, Carroll County Agriculture Center, 706 Agricultural Center Drive, Westminster

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $5 at the door for general admission, not including beer or food. There are packages offered to include beer and admission.

Parking: At the Ag Center, with a suggested parking cost of $5.