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Beer, sausage and German attire at the Rotary Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest celebrations are known for a few things in particular: lederhosen, sausages and, of course, lots of beer. Rotary Clubs throughout Carroll County are planning their own Oktoberfest celebration, which will feature all of those traditional hallmarks and much more.

The third annual Rotary Oktoberfest of Carroll County will be held this weekend, Oct. 4 and 5, at the Danele Shipley Memorial Arena at the Carroll County Agriculture Center.

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Both days will include live music by Die Immergrun Musikanten, a three-man band that plays traditional German-style polkas and dance songs. Plenty of activities have been planned for children, including scarecrow making, pumpkin decorating and face painting.

About 30 vendors will be there as well, including multiple artisans, homemade jewelry and several businesses. As is typical of Oktoberfest celebrations, a wide variety of German foods will be the staple of visitors' diets that day, including sausages, sauerkraut and desserts.

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All alcoholic beverages are being supplied by Dog Beverage Co., based in Westminster. The event's signature Oktoberfest brew will be available as in past years, but this year two other German-style beers and a pumpkin ale have been added, as well as an assortment of German wines. Commemorative mugs and pitchers will also be for sale.

On Saturday, a silent auction and raffle will take place, and on Sunday, a football tent will be set up for those who want to visit the event but not miss out on their weekly football enjoyment.

The Rotary clubs of Westminster, Sykesville, Mount Airy and Bonds Meadow have combined efforts to plan the event. Mark Messick, a member of the Mount Airy club, said the event was created because of the clubs' need for funding. They all wanted to develop a yearly event that they could count on to fund their projects each year, Messick said.

"We want [the Oktoberfest] to be something that people circle on their calendars," he said.

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One vendor, Terri Hobson, travels all over Maryland for these types of events. Her business, The Nut Cart, specializes in Bavarian-roasted pecans, almonds and cashews. She said she has attended this event the last two years and is planning on doing so again this year.

Each year, Hobson said, more people come because the word gets out. She said that she expects an even larger crowd than last year, and believes the event has a positive impact on both the vendors and organizations involved.

"The more people, the better the business," Hobson said. "These events are fun, and they help out the organizations involved."

The event involved a lot of brainstorming, and each of the Rotary clubs has played an equal role in its planning, Messick said.

"It takes a lot of volunteers and a lot of time," he said. "It's huge; it's an open area; it gets busy and stays busy."

Each club has its own agenda, mainly involving donations to nonprofits, both international and local, and rotary scholarship programs, he said. The clubs' motto is service before self, and Oktoberfest will help them achieve their goals, he said.

"We want to support the needs of our communities," Messick said. "We want to continue to have funds to do some good."

The inaugural event in 2012 was in many ways a test run, he said. It was a one-day event instead of a two-day event and expectations were reserved. The club was testing the waters to determine how many visitors the event could draw and to work out any kinks in its layout and presentation, Messick said.

"The first year, we were hoping for 1,000 visitors but had almost 2,500," said Dawn Wittselt, chairwoman of the Planning Committee.

Last year, the committee decided to expand the event to encompass the weekend, and the number of visitors grew to 4,000, she said. This year, they are expecting 5,000.

"We've done some additional publicity, so hopefully that will help out," Wittselt said.

Last year, the event raised close to $40,000, she said, which was gained from vendor fees, admission, raffle ticket and beer sales, and sponsorship from many local organizations and businesses.

"We've given back $35,000 in college scholarships between the four clubs from funds raised at Oktoberfest [last year] and every dollar has gone back into the community," Wittselt said.

She said she is hoping to exceed last year's total and a fair estimation of funds that will be raised this year would be $50,000.

"It's a great day and a great family event," Wittselt said. "There's a low cost for families to attend, so you won't go home with empty pockets."

Reach staff writer Wiley Hayes at 410-857-3315 or email him at wiley.hayes@carrollcountytimes.com.

If you go

What: Third annual Rotary Oktoberfest of Carroll County

Where: Danele Shipley Memorial Arena, 706 Agricultural Center Drive, Westminster

When: Noon-8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4 and noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5

Cost: $5 admission fee. Children 12 and younger get in for free. If you come with an authentic German outfit — Dirndl for women, lederhosen for men — admission is free.

More Information: Visit the event's website at http://www.carrolloktoberfest.com/.

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