Downtown welcomes best of wurst

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There’s still time to track down a set of lederhosen or a dirndl for Saturday’s Oktoberfest-ivities in downtown Kilgore.

Granted, traditional attire isn’t a necessity at the open-to-the-public, admission-free event running 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on North Kilgore Street and Main. It’s the fourth consecutive year for the German-themed festival in the city’s Main Street District, the second since organizers added a beer garden to help fuel the celebration.

It’s also the first year for a separate, all-ages root beer garden added to round-out the event’s family-friendly aspect alongside the return of the event’s all-ages-welcome talent show competition.

From Oktoberfest-themed food and drink to live entertainment, games, shopping and more, the festival is sponsored by the City of Kilgore and its Main St. Program working with downtown retailers, restaurants and others.

Parts of the event have almost doubled in size, says Carol Windham, who runs the Main Street program.

For example, “The vendor space has really grown,” Windham said, with about twice the number of spaces reserved on North Kilgore Street. Meanwhile, “We’re adding some more kids activities: we’re going to do arts and crafts, we’re going to have a magician and a storyteller and we’re doing pony rides” as well as a horse-drawn wagon ride.

The roster of vendors includes six selling food (including some dishes themed for the day) and a wide variety of merchandise.

New this year, the organizers’ Root Beer Garden will have kid-friendly beverages – various brands of root beer, cream sodas and other flavors – for $1 per cup or $10 for a commemorative mug with unlimited refills throughout the day.

Across the festival space, the Kilgore Oktoberfest Beer Garden will have six brews on tap for adult patrons, ranging from standard lagers (Coors, Dos Equis, etc.) to special themed options. Spearheaded by AMBUCS of East Texas, the second annual beer garden is a fundraiser – prices vary up to a commemorative glass stein (with beer of choice) available for $15. Kilgore Oktoberfest t-shirts will be on sale for $10 each.

On the main stage at the intersection of North Kilgore and Main, the Bier Nutz brass ensemble will play ‘oompah’ music beginning at 2:15 p.m, followed by another run of Kilgore’s Got Talent. The open-to-the-public contest will stretch from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and competitors of all ages and skills are welcome to sign-up on site.

Elsewhere in the entertainment lineup, the event features two sets of cloggers, the Kilgore AcroFlyers, the Kilgore High School Hi-Steppers and the KHS Co-Ed Dance Team.

The Harvest Moon Bluegrass Band will provide the day’s final soundtrack, taking the stage at 7 p.m. to perform through the close of the beer garden remains open until 9 p.m.

In addition to the event’s main stage, there will be a second performance spot in the children’s area. The event will include traditional “feats of strength” on the hour throughout the day.

Kilgore Oktoberfest will also feature a small collection of Volkswagen vehicles among other attractions Oct. 14.

“I think it’s awesome: how much it’s grown from last year to this year. It seems that more people are hearing about it – we’re getting more advertising out there than we did the first year,” Windham said. “The weather’s going to be beautiful, there’s not really many things going on this weekend – the sun will be out, and people can come down there and enjoy themselves. Shop inside the stores, they’ll be open.”

For more information, log on to KilgoreMainStreet.com.

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