The D’Oberlanders Dance Crew showcase their moves on the floor to the tune of polka music (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

Organizers impressed with Saturday’s attendance

By Jason Arndt

Some adults hoisted beer steins, others savored German-inspired food, and couples danced to tune of Brew Haus Polka Kings at Old Settlers Park Saturday in Paddock Lake.

The German-inspired festivities marked the seventh annual Old Settlers Oktoberfest, which brought additional meaning this year, and brought more funds to construct a bandshell at the Kenosha County Park.

According to Westosha Floral owner Rebecca Lancour, Saturday’s event was unlike any other, considering the sunny sky and pleasant fall weather.

“The weather is fantastic, I really believe that this is the best weather have ever had,” Lancour said. “The crowd is bigger than ever.”

Entering the annual event, Lancour and several business and community leaders worked to make Old Settlers Oktoberfest the best ever, motivated by the loss of founder Heidi Schuerstedt after she succumbed to leukemia in June.

Schuerstedt, a former bakery owner, started Oktoberfest with a vision towards funding a new band shell.

“She would be so happy right now to see all of these people here,” said Lancour, who called Schuerstedt one of her dearest friends. “I really believe that more people come to honor her and honor her memory.”

Mindy Cooling, the owner of a State Farm branch in Paddock Lake, recalled the first time she met Schuerstedt as a newcomer to the village about four years ago.

Since then, through Schuerstedt’s charming smile, Cooling got more involved in the annual event.

“I was very lucky, as soon as I came to town here in August four years ago, Heidi welcomed me with open arms and her wonderful smile,” said Cooling, who came from a State Farm branch Washburn, Ill. “Then, she asked me to be a part of Oktoberfest.”

Cooling’s involvement included sponsoring the event, encouraging other business owners to jump on board, and eventually became a board member of the nonprofit organization two years ago.

Like Lancour, Cooling said Saturday’s crowd would have brought Schuerstedt joy.

“She would be amazed that something she started, as a small business appreciation thing, turned into this,” said Cooling.

When Schuerstedt started the event, she envisioned a bandshell at Old Settlers Park, where members can come together for an evening of music.

Schuerstedt’s vision, Cooling said, was an initiative she supported.

“I saw her vision of wanting a band shelter here and I know it will be wonderful,” Cooling said.

‘Stronger than ever’
Since 2014, when Old Settlers Oktoberfest received nonprofit status, the organization has continued to grow.

Growth includes more volunteers and participation from the community.

“We are stronger than ever, and if anything, we have more board members coming, we have more volunteers coming in than ever before and we have that loved Heidi and wanted to show their support for us.”

Lancour said about 50 volunteers contributed time this year, compared to 2016, when around 30 volunteers chipped in.

As more volunteers chipped in, so did car show competitors, according to Lancour.

Lancour credited Paddock Lake Village President Terry Burns for his promotional blitz.

“He was the driving force in getting it promoted, he ran it for us, and he did a really great job,” Lancour said.

Family friendly
For 2017, Old Settlers Oktoberfest brought in a bounce house, courtesy of sponsor Jump N Jax of Kenosha.

“We did have a bounce house this year, that was new, and we did have the tractor rides, which we have about every other year and that attracted a lot of people,” Lancour said.

Along with the return of several favorites, and the new bounce, Lancour believes the event bolsters family and community engagement.

“Having an event that is affordable, local and safe is the most important thing,” she said. “It is important that you bring your family, feel at home and talk to your neighbors.”

The event received sponsorships from local businesses including, but not limited to, Mindy Cooling State Farm Insurance, Kenosha County Park, Hartnell Chevrolet, Bear Realty, Community State Bank, BMO Harris Bank, Alliant Physical Therapy and Festival Foods.

Vendors on hand to offer food were Cozzi Cafe and Bakeshop, Drifters, Colony House in Trevor, Charlie’s Place, Sandlots of Salem and Meyer Family Farms.

Presenting the Stein hoisting competition was 75th Street Inn.


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