Pembroke celebrates Oktoberfest in style 0
For the 12th year running, the Germania Club in Pembroke threw open its doors with true Bavarian hospitality for the annual Oktoberfest celebrations on Saturday, Oct. 13.
Although planning for the event has been going on for months, things began in earnest last week as organizers laid out all the decorations in the hall, and the spirit of Oktoberfest was further kindled on Friday night as the proverbial torch was passed from last year's Miss Oktoberfest, Jennette Surnoskie, to her successor, Martina Witt, at a small but enthusiastic gathering in the upper room of the Germania Club.
Addressing the crowd, Surnoskie thanked the club for the opportunity to represent them through the year as their public face at club events and, of course, last year's Oktoberfest.
"I'd like to thank... all the club members for having me as Miss Oktoberfest this past year. It was a great honour to represent the club, and I can say that next to getting married and having my kids it was the best year of my life. You have a lot of fun, you learn about the culture, you meet great people and it was just a fantastic experience. Thank you for allowing me to represent your club."
For her part, Witt is looking forward to her term wearing the sash.
"I think it's going to be wonderful," she said after the ceremony making her new title official. "Oktoberfest is a great celebration for Pembroke to have. It's a good time, there's lots to do, there's so much culture to experience and I think it's going to be wonderful. I'm excited.
"I've attended Oktoberfest for the past four or five years and I've seen it grow so much and I was always looking forward to the day when I could apply for [the title of Miss Oktoberfest] because it looked really exciting."
The event itself kicked off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, when the barbecues fired up to cook all manner of sausages and other German fare, and people began filing into the club.
At 2 p.m., local politicians and club dignitaries gathered in front of the stage for the ceremonial keg tapping.
Present for the event were MP Cheryl Gallant, a representative from MPP John Yakabuski's office, Pembroke Deputy Mayor Ron Gervais, who got the honour of doing the keg-tapping, and Laurentian Valley Mayor Jack Wilson, who has yet to miss an opening ceremony in the event's 12-year local history.
"I'd like to welcome everybody out," he told the crowd. "It's nice to see a good crowd out since there's a lot of work put into this. We need to take our hats off to all the people who keep this going. It's a lot of work, but keep it up! It's great for our community."
Once the keg was tapped and the festival officially opened, a day of music, competition and dance rolled on, with more than 550 people attending the event, which lasted until well after midnight.
"It was awesome," said Shannon Boucher, one of the event's chief organizers, on Sunday afternoon. "We had a good turnout - in the afternoon we had so many people that we had to take out more chairs."
In addition to all the fun and frivolity, the night also involved the sale of raffle tickets, which raised more than $300 to help a family from the Ottawa German Club with a child suffering from cancer.
Now that the event is over, the club's executive committee have a chance to catch their breath, but only a short chance.
When asked when planning would start for 2013's Oktoberfest party, Boucher responded, "we'll be having a meeting on Thursday."
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