Fort Collins successfully celebrated another Oktoberfest this Saturday, as students and families flocked to downtown's Civic Center Park for games, brats, and of course, beer.
This was the 27th annual Oktoberfest celebration, put on by the Eyeopeners, a Fort Collins based portion of the international Kiwanis Club. Putting a different twist on a world-wide celebration, the local Oktoberfest is actually a fundraiser with all proceeds being donated to the Children's Clinic of Larimer County.
"It's really about the children," said Larry Howell, the Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Colorado division. "If we help one kid get healthy then we've done our job here today."
The Kiwanis make a conscious effort to focus their event on the children too. Kiwanis incoming treasurer, John Crowfoot, said one of the biggest festivities of the day is usually the children's area, where parents can buy their kids an all-day pass for face painting, pumpkin decorating, a dragon maze and more.
"Of course the most profitable part is still the beer," Crowfoot said. "That's always where we make the most. It is a beer festival after all."
Crowfoot added CSU students are always a big part of their success. Not only did students come through the park consistently throughout the day, but many showed up to help for the all-volunteer event.
"We get a lot of help from Circle K International, the college level of the Kiwanis at CSU," Crowfoot explained. "The event would be much harder without them."
"The students that show up here to help are really important; they put in tons of effort. Later on we'll do our best to help them out too with recommendations and job hunts, because they are really so key to our success," said Howell, who mentioned several times how grateful the Eyeopeners were for student participation and attendance throughout the years.
"The important thing here is bringing the culture and language to the community," said CSU student Ryan Bailey. Along with fellow members, Johanna Rhodes and Matt Heim, Bailey worked Oktoberfest from start to finish as a volunteer for CSU's German (or Deutsch) Club.
Bailey explained they get a free booth at the event to sell shirts and cook- books and, in return, they help out with food sales and other volunteer duties throughout the park. Toward the end of the evening, the trio even got up on stage to sing in promotion of their favorite culture.
"We did okay with our fundraising, but we really spent most our time helping out with the event itself," Rhodes said. "We also got some students in here singing along with us a few times, which is fun."
"It's a really interesting culture, but even if you're not into studying German, this is still a fun event," Bailey said, before expressing that he hoped he would also be able to participate in Oktoberfest next year.
"We started with such a small event, hoping just to break even," said Kiwanis member Jack Gianola, who has been with the fundraiser since the beginning. "But the whole thing gets bigger every year and even though we had lower attendance today, thanks to moving to a different venue, the celebration is still a success and we're thankful for everyone who comes out to see us."