Oktoberfest in Burlington brings people together for a lot of reasons: the food, the beer, the costumes, but most importantly, the sense of community.
Saturday evening, hundreds of people gathered at Community Field to socialize and come together for six hours of German-style entertainment while helping Burlington Lions Club raise funds for community service.
The scene was set by polka music from the Lyle Beaver Quartet and Herbie’s Little German Band, which kept people dancing.
This was Burlington’s 23rd annual Oktoberfest, and plates were filled with cabbage rolls, bratwurst, sauerkraut, grilled pork chops and more including a dessert selection of German chocolate cake, and old-fashioned apple cobbler topped with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle.
The beers were colorful and hearty.
The air was cool enough for some to wear jackets and hats, but not too cold to sit outside and enjoy the fun.
Burlington and Notre Dame high school Leo Club members stayed busy clearing tables.
Saturday’s event included the traditional Stein Hoist — a strength contest in which the contestants have to prove who can hold a one liter stein glass for the longest amount of time.
“I love the event, seeing everybody come together to socialize and hang out,” said Darven Kendell, who’s been on the Oktoberfest planning committee for 19 years.
“We raise some really valuable funds with the Lions Club. We do vision screenings in our community, we do diabetic and hearing aid assistance, we provide scholarships for the Leo Club. All of the money we raise here tonight helps with those things.”
For about six years now, Oktoberfest has been held at the Burlington Bees Community Field, which has proven to be a very successful replacement for The Port of Burlington, the events’ previous location.
“I can’t say enough great things about the staff her,” Kendell said. “Tad (Lowary, the Bees general manager) and all of his crew welcome us and help with the event. It’s such a good venue for us, and the community has really embraced it, and we really appreciate their support.”
Byron Bross, another Lions Club member, commented on the benefits of holding Oktoberfest at Community Field as opposed to The Port of Burlington.
“For many years it was held down on the riverfront. Through some floods and there not being a kitchen, it became kind of impossible to have down there, and we need to have it somewhere where they have a liquor license to sell beer, because we don’t sell the beer, the Bees do that for us.”
A hallmark of the event was the lively and upbeat German music that featured saxophones, trumpets, accordions and other instruments.
“The Lyle Beaver Quartet is out of Iowa City, they play a range of music from polka to big band swing, and the other band that was there was Herbie’s Little German band. They’re a local group of musicians that have been band teachers and that kind of stuff,” Bross said.
One selection was Ein Prosit, and the band encouraged revelers to raise their glasses and say “Oans, zwoa, rei, Gsuffa!” Meaning “one, two, three, drink!”
Ein Prosit means “a toast.”
Bross talked about the role the Lions Club plays in Burlington.
“In our Lions Club, we’re part of Lions International, which is an international service organization. We have 1.4 million members, we’re the largest service club internationally, with 48,000 clubs in over 200 countries. We work on vision, diabetes, hunger, environment, disaster relief, and other humanitarian causes,” said Bross.
He also wanted to thank and give attention to sponsors that made the event possible, which includes the Burlington Bees, Deery Brothers Toyota, Carl A. Nelson and Co., and JD Byrider among many others.