The Millheim Fire Company grounds turned into a Little Germany on Saturday for Oktoberfest.
The inaugural event put on by Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks gave guests the chance to try new food and beer, and to enjoy live entertainment and games, while raising money for the volunteer firefighters.
“In the past we’ve tried to help the department out, but it really turned into a spit in the ocean compared to what we can do in terms of raising money today,” said Elk Creek co-owner and general manager Tim Bowser. “We have a good relationship with the department and have their guys as regular customers.
“They do a lot for this community, and it’s time we do more for them.”
Third assistant chief Scott Long said that Bowser met with the fire company about two years ago, asking what he could do to help.
“We came up with an Oktoberfest,” Long said. “In the last year, we held regular meetings with each other trying to organize things. This is a predominantly German town, and it’s a great thing to do, not just for us but the community.”
Bowser estimated that by noon Saturday, about 300 people were already at the event. By 4 p.m. when Oktoberfest ended, many more had visited the grounds.
“We’re happy with the turnout,” said Fire Chief Delmer Homan. “We weren’t sure what to expect, but it’s been great.”
He said a fundraising goal was not determined, but that any dollar is helpful.
Bowser said that while he and his staff at Elk Creek organized the food, drink and entertainment for the event, the fire company organized the tents and other details at the grounds, because members have experience from putting on an annual carnival.
Some people were even dressed in German attire as they served food and drinks to patrons.
Bowser said that Elk Creek’s goal was to initiate the event, work out the kinks, and bring it back bigger and better next year.
“We’ll have a lot to learn,” he said. “But I think in a larger capacity, it has a good impact on the community and I think it will bring people out here and raise money to support the fire department. They give so much, to us and we want to thank them by giving back the best we can.”
Guests said they would like to see Oktoberfest become a tradition in Millheim.
“You can come out here and drink and have a merry time,” Micah Stover said. “But in the end, our money is going back into the community we live in for the guys and girls who serve us. That’s what really matters — to show our support for them.”
Homan said he and Bowser have already begun to talk about ideas for next year.
“We’re giving it the thumbs up so far,” Homan said. “The support is appreciated, and it gives people an opportunity to come out and have a good time.”