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Revelers mark Oktoberfest in Springs
The crowd of several hundred, beers in head, watched with excitement as Otis, Mocha, Apollo Heft and Winston Lynch lined up at the starting line of a 40-ft track designed specifically for racing wiener dogs.
At the “go!” laughter burst from the crowd, as the stubby-legged dogs ran everywhere but straight ahead toward the finish line. Applause exploded and then subsided as one dog raced three-quarters ahead on the track, only to turn around and speed in the wrong direction.
The Dachshund Dash, a highlight of this weekend’s Oktoberfest held at Security Service Field in northeast Colorado Springs, was just a small taste of the fun that several hundred people lined up early for Saturday. By late Saturday afternoon, event organizer John O’Donnell said the event had already seen 6,000 people, ranging in age from young to old, many of them with wiener dogs in tow.
Oktoberfest goers have the chance through Sunday to don pointy Bavarian Alpine hats, sip from German brew-filled steins and join the Bavarian festival that seemed to have been in every town but Colorado Springs for the last 8 years.
After the hiatus, Oktoberfest is back in Colorado Springs and bigger than ever with German food, music, dance, a bratwurst eating contest and perhaps best of all, beer.
The Chalet Dancers, a 7-person folk dance group from Castlerock, have been performing folk dances throughout the state and around the world for years. Their goal, said Tina Liedle, director and mother of five of the dancers in the group, is to keep European culture and history alive.
“It’s lasted for thousands of years for a reason,” said her son, Francis Liedle, 24, who hand-tailored his two brothers’ dance costumes. “If we lose it, all we have is hot dogs, popcorn and television.”
Attendees were able to spend the day indulging in a variety of authentic German foods from Weisswurst to schnitzel, and for the kids, there was face painting, inflatable bounce houses and slides.
The start of the event on Friday evening brought in 2,000 people, many who of whom stayed well until midnight, O’Donnell said.
Apart from giving new life to the event, O’Donnell said it was also about bringing a community event to different part of town.
Steve and Jaque Delano and their 2-year old dachshund Ozzie live in the neighborhood.
The Delanos travelled to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest recently, but appreciate the opportunity to get in touch with their roots at an accessible venue at home.
“I’ve missed it the last couple of years,” said Jaque. She think this year’s venue is an improvement from venues used in the past. Her husband Steve, thinks the festival should be bigger next year.
That just might happen. O’Donnell said the turnout for the $42,000 event is already better than he expected. He wants to do it again.
“To walk out your front and see something different, to get familiar with something different, is important,” said O’Donnell. “It makes us a community.”