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Rain tempers crowd, but not spirits at Oktoberfest

By Blair Ames

Sunday - 10/2/2011, 6:06am  ET

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Cheryl Radcliffe pours a pail of special Oktoberfest beer Saturday from Barley and Hops. (Frederick News-Post/Sam Yu)

Frederick resident Jeremy Malnar forgot his mug for Oktoberfest on Saturday.

No problem.

He'll just enjoy one of the 22 beers on tap at Frederick's 10th annual Oktoberfest held at the Frederick Fairgrounds from an 85-ounce bucket of beer available for sale.

"It's good beer," said Malnar, taking a sip. "It's something fun to do."

Saturday marked the beginning of the two-day festival celebrating German beer, food and culture. Organizers have 200 kegs and 700 pounds of bratwurst. They used 1,500 pounds of potatoes to make homemade potato salad for the event.

Last year's event drew the largest-ever crowd of almost 8,000 visitors, Oktoberfest chairman Sean McAdam said.

But rain will probably keep some people from attending the event this weekend, he said.

"We're doing very well, but it's not crazy like it was last year," McAdam said. "You never know what you're going to get."

Organizers do their best to keep the event as local as possible every year with local brewers Barley & Hops, Brewer's Alley and Flying Dog providing most of the beer, McAdam said.

Two Oktoberfest brews from Spaten and Hacker-Pschorr in Germany are also available.

Five different Oktoberfest beers are offered at the festival, he said.

With the smell of bratwurst and sauerkraut throughout, the Washingtonia, a German dance group sporting the traditional dirndl and lederhosen, had a crowded Null Building clapping and dancing to traditional Bavarian music.

Hagerstown residents Dan and Theresa Kurtenbach could be found right in front of the performers, enthusiastically clapping along with the beat. The dance floor is where they met 42 years ago, although they weren't performing the figurentanz, a traditional German dance.

"Dancing made sure we could be together forever," Dan said.

"We really enjoy it," his wife said, referring to the performance.

The Kurtenbachs arrived at Oktoberfest before 11 a.m. Saturday and were considering coming back today as well.

The Washingtonia have been performing at Frederick's Oktoberfest since the first festival, and it's the camaraderie and time with friends that brings Miguel Pinto back after 35 years of being a member of the troupe.

"It's the only time of year we perform this Bavarian tradition," he said.

The Washingtonia, a group of Washington-area residents, have up to a dozen performances scheduled from September through November, Pinto said.

Oktoberfest was held from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and is to continue from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Mike and the Continentals performing polka music and the waltz along with the Alpine Dancers showcasing traditional dances of Austria and Germany highlight today's entertainment.

In his fifth year as a volunteer and first as chairman, McAdam said the event has grown every year and now takes about 700 volunteers over the weekend to operate.

Oktoberfest is organized by Frederick Rotary clubs, and all proceeds from the event are distributed among the clubs and then given to local charities.

The event raised $100,000 last year, McAdam said.

"All the money finds its way back into the community," he said.

Copyright 2011 The Frederick News-Post. All rights reserved.