Artists, craftspersons, food vendors and performers from six counties have reserved space for the Champaign County Historical Society’s 43rd annual Oktoberfest to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 4 on the society’s museum grounds, 809 East Lawn Ave.
Applications for booth space will be accepted until Oct. 1, and forms are available by calling Dick Virts, museum curator, at 937-653-6721.
Admission to Oktoberfest, the historical society’s lone fundraiser, is $2 per person. Children 10 years of age and under are admitted free if accompanied by a paying adult.
There is no rain date for the event, and free parking is available in the city lot adjacent to the museum grounds.
The historical society’s Oktoberfest borrows its name from the Bavarian festival that began in 1810 as a celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, and the festival acknowledges its ethnic connection with a German-style band and traditional bratwurst and potato salad meal.
The first Oktoberfest held in Urbana took place in 1972 in the basement of the historical society museum and featured samples of early American products and processes that were created from authentic materials, techniques and tools. The inaugural event honored the creativity and ingenuity of American pioneers and the values and personal satisfactions inherent in handwork of all kinds.
The first Oktoberfest was a juried event in which no manufactured or imported goods were considered. Organizers still hold true to that policy today, focusing on early Americana, but accepting contemporary adaptations that do not compromise the integrity of the historic theme.
Some of the 2015 exhibitors will be demonstrating skills in blacksmithing, chair caning, yarn spinning and weaving cloth from alpaca fleece.
This year’s event will feature a three-dimensional alpaca display consisting of a spinning/weaving demonstration flanked by a pen of live alpacas, and a boutique of finished alpaca products.
Patrons will also have the opportunity to purchase handcrafted fine and functional arts, seasonal and holiday decorations, home accessories, toys, game, clothing, home-baked goods, and live and dried plants from the Buckeye Garden Club.
Food and entertainment
The historical society’s popular bratwurst and German-style potato salad meal, which has been served at the prior 42 Oktoberfests, will be prepared for the second year in a row by The Farmer’s Daughter in Urbana.
A contingent from the Champaign County Library will offer face painting and fall-themed crafts for the children, and music will be provided by Mary Pollock’s 1914 Wurlitzer 125 band organ, the Champaign County Dulcimer Club, the Champaign County Youth Choir and a strolling band playing German-style “oompah” music.
Visitors to this year’s event can also tour the museum, which will be open during festival hours.
The Champaign County Historical Society is an all-volunteer organization that relies on memberships, donations and Oktoberfest proceeds to meet the costs of public programs, acquiring and preserving exhibits and maintaining an online catalog.
Sally Johnson is a contributor to this newspaper.
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