GALION — Food, fun, rides, games and music came together over the weekend as people from all over Ohio gathered for the Oktoberfest celebration in Historic Uptowne Galion.
“I think it was excellent,” said Jim Hedges, Oktoberfest Committee chairman. “It was unbelievable. There were so many highlights it’s hard to hit on just one. I think the whole thing was a big highlight. People came up because we didn’t have it last year and they were excited.
“The way we did the kids’ rides, so they were all in the same area was a good move. The stage on the square was a big hit. The beer garden also was a really big hit,” he said, noting they had over 500 people in the beer garden on Saturday night alone.”The bands were a big hit. Friday night with Jessica Hannan was a big hit and Saturday — with Ozzy, ACDC, Black Sabbath (tribute bands) — that was a huge hit. I can’t ever remember seeing that many people up town.
“Everybody liked the variety of food. We had 25 food vendors, and a lot of people liked the craft tent,” he said.
Food brought the Metheney family up to the Oktoberfest on Saturday afternoon. The group was munching on apple dumplings, bourbon chicken, french fries, onion rings and fresh made lemonade.
Vendor Ally Gill said business was going good at The Popper stand, which offered cotton candy, caramel and candied apples, popcorn, caramel corn and a variety of drinks.
“The most popular items are the cotton candy and the caramel apples,” she said. “I ran out of almost everything (on Friday),” she said.
Hedges said he had five vendors come up to him said they ran out of product.
“They weren’t expecting the turnout we had,” Hedges said.
“We came came up just to see what was going on,” said John and Jean Henry.
When asked was brought them up to the Oktoberfest, Holly Routson and Melissa Steinberg, said “Food!” We’re here from Marion and we just wanted to come and eat.” The two said they munched on a variety of food including corn dogs, smoothies, snow cones and deep fried cheese.
“We also played the water race game,” Stenberg added, as Routson held up the small stuffed tiger she won.
The festival was a community event.
“I couldn’t have put this (Oktoberfest) together without the committee,” Hedges said. “And Rally for Hope … we wouldn’t have been able to put this on without them. We used their non-profit license so we could put it on, so a big shout out to them. And a big shout out to all the sponsors, without them it couldn’t be done either.”
A lot of things came together to make the return of this long-time Galion festival a success.
“Mother Nature blessed us,” Hedges said of the weather for the festival. “And Galion won their football game. It was a great weekend all-in-all. There were no problems anywhere and everybody had a great time. I talked to some of the businesses and they said they had a steady stream of people coming into their stores.”
And Hedges is already thinking about next year.
“This was our first year and we’re going to make mistakes, but for our first year, everything went smoothly,” Hedges said.
Nina Baldinger and her daughter Lacey visited Galion and the Oktoberfest on Saturday.
“My family lives here,” she said. “We’re from Wyandot County.” Nina said her daughter was enjoying the rides and even had a butterfly painted on her face while enjoying the festival.
“When you get people coming up to you thanking you, it just makes all the hard work worth it,” he said. “You forget about all the work when you see everybody smiling and the kids having fun. The ugly dog contest was a big hit, the tractor pull, they had a ton of kids for that, the pie eating contest was fun to watch. All the volunteers from the high school did a great job. Everybody pulled together, it was just phenomenal.”