NEW BRITAIN - Hundreds turned out for the seventh annual Oktoberfest at St. Peter Church on Saturday.
The festival was initially held at St. Joseph Hall as a way to raise money for the church while celebrating its German heritage.
After Oktoberfest sold out its first three years, Divine Providence Parish moved the event to the backyard of St. Peter Church.
“We’re constantly trying to add something for the people to enjoy themselves … something that is (entertaining) so they can have fun without spending a lot of money,” Oktoberfest Chairman Richard Roder said.
The all-day festival featured authentic German food and drink, traditional Austrian and German music performed by the Austrian Boys Band and traditional German dance routines by the Alpenland Dancers.
Laurel City Historical Fencing returned again this year to demonstrate the teachings of Johannes Liechtenauer, covering longsword, messer, dagger, wrestling, poleax and other weaponry.
Roder said unlike other Oktoberfests, the one at St. Peter Church is focused on German traditions.
“This church was founded by German immigrants and I think it’s important that we keep it the heritage of the people that started this,” Roder said.
Also offered were raffles, games including cornhole, a bounce house for children and local vendors.
There was also a home brew competition, in which bottles of beer were submitted for judging and sampling.
Gift cards and other prizes were awarded for Best of Show, Best Hefe Weizen and Crowd Favorite.
“We’re constantly innovating and looking to bring new things for the next year,” Roder said.
He said prices are kept reasonable and guests are allowed re-entry with a wristband so they are able to go out and see what else is going on in the area - such as the Downtown Car Show on West Main Street - and then come back.
Each year, Roder said, about 700 adults from all over Connecticut and nearby states come out for the family fun celebration.
“I know that anytime you hold a party the three most important things are the venue, which creates the atmosphere, the entertainment and the food and drink. You have to build on those three pillars,” Roder said.
“Depending on what people prefer, that’s what we are trying to bring here, to offer an experience, not just one thing but all those things together.”
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.