Old Settlers Oktoberfest brought traditional German faire Saturday in the Village of Paddock, where guests donned lederhosen, hoisted beer steins and danced to the tunes of polka music (Chad Hensiak/The Report).

Oktoberfest booms in Paddock Lake

By Jason Arndt

Old Settlers Park in Paddock Lake boomed with Bavarian-inspired culture Saturday when the Kenosha County park held its eighth annual Oktoberfest.

The event saw several people donning lederhosen and raising beer steins, dancing to polka tunes, and embracing German heritage.

Old Settlers Oktoberfest, which started in 2011, serves as a fundraiser to finance a new band shelter at the park.

After Saturday’s event, organizers are more than 50 percent towards the benchmark, which is about $100,000.

Old Settlers Oktoberfest, also a nonprofit organization since 2014, coordinated the event.

According to organizer Rebecca Lancour, owner of Westosha Floral, she said Saturday’s event marked the biggest boom in its nine years.

“This is the biggest year so far, definitely,” said Lancour, who credited the scores of volunteers who contributed at the event.

“It feels wonderful, it was a great even, I have so many volunteers. It feels great that people are recognizing all of their hard work.”

Additionally, she said Mindy Cooling of State Farm Insurance in Paddock Lake, along with the spirit of the event’s founder Heidi Schuerstedt also played a role in the event’s success.

Schuerstedt, who passed away last year, developed the Oktoberfest vision about a decade ago.

“I wish she was here to see this, because people are realizing that this is a great event.”

Vision started
Schuerstedt, the former owner of Heidi’s Bakery, originally planned to hold an event on her property before village officials and local businesses stepped forward to enlarge her vision.

Since then, Old Settlers Oktoberfest received nonprofit status after the 2014 event and started raising funds for the band shelter.

Maria Veith, owner of Cozzi Café and Bakeshop, remembered Schuerstedt as an advocate for a better community.

“It is so nice to see it grow, and getting bigger and bigger every year,” she said.

“Everything that Heidi stood for is happening.”

As she remembered Schuerstedt, Veith also recalled experience Oktoberfest for the first time about four years ago, when she was an Illinois resident.

“My husband (Sam), before we got married, was local to the area, so we have been to Oktoberfest for the past three or four years,” said Veith.

For her husband, Sam, he felt the energy of Oktoberfest on Saturday.

Sam, who agreed with Lancour and his wife, stated “this is one of the busiest years I have ever seen.”

‘All about the people’
In addition to Schuerstedt’s vision, Lancour said the people have made planning and coordinating the event a worthwhile effort.

“It is just about the people every year, the dancers, the bands, it is just the people,” she said. “It is all about the people.”

Brew Haus Polka Kings, Ed Wagner Brass Band and the Alphorn Players were the event’s featured musicians.

The Ed Wagner Brass Band, of Illinois, reached out to organizers about playing at Oktoberfest

“We had a new band this year,” Lancour said. “They actually contacted me because they heard about our event.”

Lancour also credited dozens of sponsors for their contributions.

Meanwhile, as hundreds participated in multiple activities, area restaurants offered several German-inspired food items.

Car show supports Make-a-Wish
In conjunction with Old Settlers Oktoberfest, the car show returned for another year, this time to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

“We have never charged for our car show, never asked for donations,” said Lancour, who noted this year’s show had a $5 suggested donation.


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