MARIETTA - A sunny Saturday gave way to some rain clouds and much cooler weather Sunday, but that didn't stop thousands from attending Lowell's 37th annual Octoberfest over the weekend.
Sisters Barb Briggs and Susie Joyce, both natives of Lowell, said Octoberfest is a yearly outing for them.
"It's kind of an annual thing we do - but we really come for the food," Joyce said.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Members of the Lowell-Adams Volunteer Fire Department barbecued 1,100 chickens for this year’s 37th annual Octoberfest on Buell Island in Lowell over the weekend.
"I've been coming since the festival started," she said. "And my daughter, April, was born April 1 that year, so she just turned 37, too."
Victor Thompson, of Barnesville, and buddy Mike White from Proctor, W.Va., were enjoying a couple bowls of the Octoberfest's famous soup beans and cornbread for lunch Sunday.
"It's my first time here, but this is all right - I'm really enjoying it," White said.
Thompson, originally from Whipple, returns home to attend the Octoberfest each year.
"Our wives are going through the arts and crafts tents - they come to shop," he said. "So we left them there and came up to try the food."
Sunday's cool weather proved to be profitable for Vicky Dong, a vendor from Youngstown.
"I sell knitted hats, mittens, sweaters and sweatshirts," she said as customers browsed through her booth, purchasing items to help them stay warm.
"Last year it rained all weekend, but yesterday's weather was nice," Dong said, adding that she drives several hours to participate in the Octoberfest every year.
Octoberfest chairman Terry Schwendemann said this year's event turned out much better than expected, considering weather forecasts on Friday were projecting a wet weekend.
"We've had a very nice crowd, and the weather was especially good Saturday - the grounds were packed with people," he said. "Of course food is the big draw for the Octoberfest - including the chicken, roast beef, Reuben sandwiches and cream puffs. My wife and I drove to Columbus to pick up 500 cream puffs for this year's festival. People love them."
He said revenue from the Octoberfest supports Buell Island park, ball teams and activities held there, as well as the volunteer fire department.
"People come from all over for the food," Schwendemann added. "We had a crew team in from Parkersburg Saturday, and one of their members was an exchange student from Germany. They were going to paddle down the Muskingum and through the locks at Devols Dam."
Terry's mother, Mildred Schwendemann, coordinates the massive amount of cooking at the Octoberfest.
"I've done this every year except for the first - I had to ride a carriage in the parade that year," she said. "And without this great staff of volunteers I don't know how we could get this done."
Mildred said the crowd was so large Saturday that they sold out of the festival's famous German potato salad.
"One local woman bought 20 twelve-ounce cups of the potato salad to take home to her 93-year-old mother - I think she'll have enough to last awhile," she said. "But we've made more potato salad for (today)."
Pat Lang was helping members of the Lowell-Adams Volunteer Fire Department prepare some of the festival's popular barbecued chicken Sunday.
"We have 1,100 chickens, and sell out every year, rain or shine," he said as the last 140 of those chickens were carried to the barbecue pit Sunday afternoon.
While there was no official count of the number of people who attended the weekend festival, Mildred Schwendemann said it was good to see such a large crowd after poor attendance due to rainy weather during last year's event.
"And Saturday this year was a wonderful day - it was like the Octoberfests I remember in the past," she said.