By Magdalena Knapp, Editor
Dressed in Lederhosen and Dirndl, on Saturday, September 17, people from the area of O’Fallon could come together and celebrate the so-called “Oktoberfest”. Young people, older people, men, women – everyone came to celebrate between brats, beer, and many fun games.
This particular Oktoberfest was held between the O’Fallon city hall and St. Clare of Assisi church. The church was founded 150 years ago and her impact on the society in O’Fallon has grown since then. After the first Mass in 1867 where 40 Catholics attended, the historic red brick structure got rebuilt in 1895 to offer more space to the flourishing community. The first preacher Fr. Theodore Kamann also established St. Clare School and worked as their first teacher. After a donation of 20 acres of land, the church now takes care of the needs of over 1,000 households, and people go there every day to attend Mass.
The church, which recalls the design of the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi, Italy, was also the starting point of the 5K run for young and old athletes. Everyone was welcome; there were children, adults, elderly people, parents pushing their baby carriages, and other people being pulled by their four-legged friends. The run marked the official start of the 2017 Oktoberfest in O’Fallon, Illinois.
In the center of the traditional German style decorated fairground was the ticket sales booth. Visitors could purchase tickets that served as payment method to get food or play fun games during the Oktoberfest. The highlight for children was certainly the “Kinderplatz” an open space where children could play fun games such as fish pond, spinning wheel, and others where they wagered tickets to win little prices. Another meeting point for children was the face painting area. Children could be whoever they wanted to be. Some became a lion, a princess, and even a rainbow. Children and adults could also enjoy a ride around the area on a pony or horse.
A large part of the fairground was occupied by chairs, tables, and people standing around them. And because an Oktoberfest would not be the same without the traditional Paulaner beer, there was also plenty of that. While parents enjoyed a fresh sip of beer, their children had their hands covered in sugar and syrup from the delicious funnel cakes. After the run was over, runners and non-runners needed a refreshment, and what could be better after a 5K run than a warm and steaming Bratwurst, covered in mustard and Sauerkraut. While volunteers from McKendree University and other fellows from the area served Brats, hot dogs, burgers, and cheeseburgers, so that the winners of the run could enjoy their victory ceremony.
The space got even more crowded when the Mass of the hosting church ended at 5pm and more Oktoberfest-friends joined the party. The live band completed the atmosphere, and people started dancing and enjoying the evening even more. Everyone who partook in the O’Fallon Oktoberfest had a great time, even when the sun started to disappear behind the church steeple, Oktoberfest friends were still dancing and enjoying the first days of fresh autumn air.
The Oktoberfest in O’Fallon was a massive success! Not only for us swimming bearcats who helped put on the event, and had fun with people there; but also for the people who celebrated in Dirndl and Lederhosen. Everyone had a great time, and we look forward to celebrating again next year!