Family-friendly fun drew large crowds to Oktoberfest

VERO BEACH — A picturesque venue, idyllic weather, a host of new activities and vendors and very low cost admission, all combined to draw upwards of 2,000 people to the Junior League of Indian River County’s Oktoberfest Saturday afternoon.

The event was held at Pointe West’s Heritage Park this year, which allowed organizers to take full advantage of the spacious, attractively designed space.  Friends and families were having a great time enjoying the festivities and catching up with one another in the relaxed, small town setting. “We’re very pleased with the new location,” said JLIR Past President Erin Grall.  “We had room for the bounce houses, could add more food vendors, and add something innovative like the Cornhole Tournament to get more people out.”

The entire western end of the park was primarily devoted to youngsters, with a Kinder Garden filled with bounce houses and inflatable slides, a petting zoo with miniature animals for tiny tots, a face painter and a balloon artist, and a grassy area large enough for the little ones to run off some steam or toss a few Frisbees.

The eastern end of the park drew a slightly older crowd, with its beer, wine and food vendors, Treasure & Space Coast Radio music broadcasts, and the introduction of the popular Cornhole Tournament.

Tables and chairs had been set up on the grassy area in front of the park’s center pavilion, for people to dine or just relax while being entertained by the Stuttgart Stompers German Band and Edelweiss Dancers.

The committee did away with the beer tasting offered at last year’s inaugural event, which had necessitated a separate tented area for the 21+ crowd.   They opted instead to offer a selection of Oktoberfest beers on tap so that everyone could mingle and enjoy the whole festival.

Long lines of people waited patiently to purchase some traditional German food; everything from Wurst and spetzel platters to herring and sour cream. Anticipating the larger crowd, the German food vendor brought twice as much as last year and it appeared to be selling rapidly.

The gorgeous day even brought out the fabulous Miss Vero, who gushed, “Yes hunnies, contrary to what you might have heard, I’m not dead yet!”

Belying its long-established stay-at-home mom image, this current crop of enthusiastic Junior Leaguers also includes hard working business and professional women who are managing careers, families and volunteer work with equal acumen.

A number of Leaguers had even participated in other fundraising events earlier in the day, including JLIR President Holly Mantle who also chaired the Healthy Start Coalition’s Half Marathon, and Elizabeth Stegenga who walked in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Continuing the tradition of fulfilling the needs of local children and families, the net proceeds from the event will primarily support their newest initiative, the Whole Child Connection, a comprehensive web-based system that helps families access needed services. {igallery 277}

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