110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
It's almost October — it's time for Oktoberfest, 'the greatest celebration here in DeLand'
This year, teachers and priests head for the dunk tank
By Pat Andrews
posted Sep 27, 2011 - 4:16:35pm
The weather is cooler, or at least less steamy, and bright-blue skies are making an appearance.
That means it's Oktoberfest time in DeLand, at St. Peter Catholic Church.
The 60th installment of the annual tradition will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, on the grounds surrounding St. Peter.
Oktoberfest hours are 4-10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29; 4-11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1; and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2.
Prices for ride tickets have not increased. As in past years, advance tickets cost $6 for 10 tickets. They are available until noon Thursday at the church office at 359 W. New York Ave. in DeLand, or at St. Peter Catholic School or the Bosco Center, both next to the church. Tickets at the festival will cost $1 each.
Father Tom Connery told The Beacon, "It's the greatest celebration here in DeLand," spanning four days. More than 1,000 members of the parish are involved in putting it together, and attendance has run between 20,000 and 30,000 people in recent years.
"It's a thing that galvanizes us as a community," both within the parish and the whole of DeLand, Connery said. And, "It gives us a chance to feel like kids again."
This year, there will be around 25 different rides.
Proceeds from the festival are earmarked for a new family-life center and gymnasium.
New events on tap this year
Something new this year: Teachers will climb into a dunk tank.
It will give schoolchildren a chance to pay back St. Peter's teachers for homework.
And, co-chairman Dave Brown said, "We're going to get the priests in the dunk tank."
That should draw a crowd.
"We're trying to add a new thing here, a new thing there," Brown said.
Another new event is the cornhole game, which will give participants a chance to win a $30,000 Dodge pickup truck supplied by Hurley Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in DeLand.
Here's how it will work:
Participants will play the cornhole game each day. This involves tossing a beanbag toward an angled board on the ground, with the object of getting the beanbag to fall into a hole on the board. The winners of each day's play will compete Sunday.
"They'll have one shot," Brown said. If a player manages to get that one shot in the hole, that participant wins the pickup truck. If none of the players succeeds on the first try, no one wins.
Players should practice up, Brown said.
The country store will feature the traditional baked goods, jams and jellies, and craft items, and something new: individually portioned frozen meals, such as lasagna. No need to cook all week, coordinator John Mott said.
All the traditional Oktoberfest events will return this year, including the silent auction in the Bosco Center. Italian food, sausages, hamburgers and all the fun carnival food will be served up.
Bingo, all-day-long live music, karate schools' demonstrations and more will keep the midway active.
In 2004, Oktoberfest Chairwoman Liz Jones told The Beacon how St. Peter's Oktoberfest got started.
It began when the National Guard lent a tent to the church, and the festival was held in the grassy area that's now a parking lot, behind the church.
“The grand prize was a cow, won by Edna and Red Calkins, who lived on South Woodland Boulevard. The cow was tied to a peg in the front yard and became a family pet,” Jones said.
In 1978, carnival rides made their first Oktoberfest appearance, and the festival has “survived and prospered,” even through wars and econom
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