Champaign County Historical Society announces Oktoberfest


URBANA—More than 75 artists, crafters, performers, organizations and food vendors have reserved space for the Champaign County Historical Society’s 47th annual Oktoberfest set for Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the museum grounds, 809 East Lawn Ave., Urbana.

Oktoberfest 2019 exhibitors include Brenda Jarrett, 5974 Hardin-Wapak, Sidney. Her display, Garden Glass Creations, will offer original designs in angels she made from antique glass and owls and other whimsical items fashioned from kitchen gadgets.

Admission is $3 per person. Children aged 10 and under are admitted free if accompanied by a paying adult. Parking is free in the city lot adjacent to the museum grounds. There is no rain date.

The Society’s first Oktoberfest nearly a half-century ago was a small craft fair and fundraiser featuring the products, processes and pastimes of early Champaign County. German immigrants were the largest number of foreign-born settlers of Champaign County and Oktoberfest 2019 acknowledges this German heritage.

An expanded food court will feature bratwurst and sauerkraut served by the Urbana American Legon Ladies Auxiliary; Mom Andrasik’s Cabbage Rolls; Gold Medal Oktoberfest beer and WitBier from Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company of Springfield. Entertainment will include a strolling German-style band.

Other food vendors reserving space are Marshall’s Kettle Corn, Freyhof Funnel Cakes, K Family Catering, Fruit Bucket Smoothies, Daniel Trout’s food truck and the Urbana Soroptimist Club which will bring home-baked goods.

The Urbana High School Band will march from the campus for a grand entrance into the Oktoberfest grounds where they will concertize. Festivities will be accompanied by an Oktoberfest tradition, the merry-go-round music of Mary Pollock’s 1914 Wurlitzer 125 Band Organ.

One of the area’s most enduring events, the Historical Society’s Oktoberfest is unique in that it holds to the original stipulation that everything offered for sale must be handmade or homegrown by the exhibitor. No imported or mass-produced goods are accepted.

Consequently, patrons can browse and buy from original fine and functional arts, hand-made seasonal and holiday decorations, home and garden accessories, pottery, wood, glass, paper and fabric crafts, knitted, sewn and crocheted items and original designs in pet clothing, handbags, totes and jewelry.

Gardeners offer home-grown produce, pumpkins, gourds, decorative corn, buckeyes, fall arrangements, wreaths, hypertufa pots and succulents. There will also be repurposed furniture, scented oils, handmade soaps and herbal teas.

Youngsters can shop from displays of toys, dolls and doll clothes, games and books. Face painting and other youth activities will be offered by the Champaign County Library.

Several artisans will demonstrate their specialties: Susan Millice of Cable will bring a pen of her alpaca sheep, a luxury yarn on the hoof, and display raw fleece and spun yarn. Crocheted alpaca wool accessories will be for sale.

Jane Stimmel of Woodstock will show her expertise in chair caning using natural cane. Patrons can watch Urbana blacksmith Don Richardson, longtime Oktoberfest participant, hammer out products from iron at his mobile forge.

Project and membership literature will be available at the Champaign County Preservation Alliance booth, free spinal screenings can be had from the Urbana Sertell Chiropractic Clinic and the Champaign Quilters Guild will offer handmade quilts.

The Historical Society and Museum are supported entirely by membership fees, donations and proceeds from two fundraisers—a Spring Antiques Fair and Oktoberfest. The museum staff was all volunteer until summer of 2019 when Cheryl Ogden was hired as Museum Operations Manager. The museum is now open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.