Millheim gearing up for Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is coming up Saturday to help support the Millheim Volunteer Fire Company, but this is just one event for the borough in the plan to put it on the map.

“When you live in a small town, you work together to get things going,” said Karl Eric Leitzel, The Green Drake Gallery and Art Center owner and Millheim Business Community member. “We’re working together to set up events that are fun for locals and to help bring people to our town.”

Although the Oktoberfest is not hosted by the MBC, Leitzel said having events of this nature is helping the “Millheim renaissance.”

“It’s all about bringing a community together,” Leitzel said. “Millheim’s really located in a central point in Penns Valley, and I think something like this allows people from the area to gather for a good cause that serves its people.”

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the fire company grounds, Oktoberfest will be underway to help raise money for the company.

The event, organized and sponsored by the Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, will feature German food and drink, among other foods, with live entertainment for guests.

“I believe that the community should be able to support their volunteer fire department,” said Elk Creek Cafe co-owner and general manager Tim Bowser. “The amount of money they have to raise is a lot, and this is raising something for them.”

Bowser said he expects a couple hundred people to attend the event and hopes to raise several thousand dollars. Bowser said 100 percent of the proceeds benefit the fire department.

Bowser said Oktoberfest is also “a way to contribute to Millheim improvement by putting something back into the community.”

And that is community members’ goal for the borough in what they call the “Millheim renaissance.”

Leitzel said a business organization was set up while new businesses downtown were opening, including his own, which he opened two and a half years ago at 101 W. Main St.

“This was really the start to this renaissance,” Leitzel said. “We work with the community and the borough government to see what’s best.”

As a native of Aaronsburg and an artist by trade, he wanted to set up an art gallery that showcases his and other locals’ work in an area he is familiar with. Leitzel said the advantage of having a business in a small town is cheaper building space, but that his business gets less foot traffic than he would if he were stationed in a place like State College.

“You learn the lay of the land and work together with other businesses to help your own,” he said. “We’re kind of a team when it comes to this.”

Leitzel said one reason the MBC was created was to improve the area and create events that help bring more people to Millheim who can utilize the small businesses downtown.

Those events include Merry Millheim, a holiday celebration, and Millheim Mayfly Festival in June.

“We see this bring people from Penns Valley, but also State College and Lewistown,” Leitzel said.

“Our downtown is only two blocks; we only have maybe a dozen businesses, but we’re working together for the best of the community and hoping to bring it back to life,” Leitzel said.