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Rain and suds flow at Augustoberfest in Hagerstown

Sunday storms don't seem to affect festival's attendance

August 26, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Kristi Davenport and Jeff DeFord dance the Frankenfesler at Augustoberfest on Sunday. The two are part of the Alt-Washingtonia group.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

When violent weather that included a tornado warning in Pennsylvania rolled through the Tri-State area Sunday, organizers at Augustoberfest had to decide what to do.

They listened to the forecast as the storms got closer and decided to pack up about 10 smaller tents in Hagerstown’s Central Parking Lot, where the two-day event was being held, said Karen Giffin, community affairs manager for the city of Hagerstown.

City officials decided it was safe to continue with the event and the celebration was concentrated in the main tent, Giffin said.

“We did let everyone know about it,” Giffin said of Sunday’s storms, which dumped 0.87 inch of rain in Hagerstown, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer’s website at http://i4weather.net.

“Once it was done, we just cleaned up some water areas,” said Giffin, who added that city officials were particularly worried about wind.

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Nobody seemed bothered by the distraction.

A member of one of the bands commented about how much beer everyone might have drunk the day before.

And what’s the best remedy, he asked, for too much beer?

More beer.

And so the suds kept flowing as everyone danced to polka music.

Rick and Maria Parkhurst of Ellicott City, Md., decided to travel to Hagerstown for a day of German celebrations. Rick Parkhurst said he and his wife enjoy coming to Hagerstown and taking in the attractions like the Schmankerl Stube Bavarian Restaurant and City Park.

Rick Parkhurst said the stormy weather forced him to consider only one thing Sunday.

“It caused me not to bring a motorcycle,” Parkhurst said.

Otherwise, it was a “wonderful day,” Parkhurst said.

Jack Myers of Hagerstown said he was at the event earlier in the day Sunday when the storms rolled in.

“Man, it started raining. I couldn’t even get out of the car,” Myers said.

Myers said he left to take a break, but vowed the weather would not keep him away.

“This only happens once a year. I love to dance,” Myers said.

Giffin said the event broke a record with its attendance on Saturday, which was 2,800. Giffin said about 1,000 people had attended the event by midafternoon Sunday, which was about average compared to Sundays in past years for the event.

Augustoberfest is Hagerstown’s answer to Oktoberfest, the 16-day celebration of Bavarian culture attended by millions annually in Munich, Germany. It’s also a chance to celebrate Hagerstown’s sister-city relationship with Wesel, Germany, a connection that is marking its 60th anniversary this year.

Jordan Crilly of Halfway was standing in the main tent Sunday afternoon with several friends. Crilly had an up-close experience with Germany when he traveled to the country through a program that was offered when he was attending Williamsport High School.

Crilly said the surroundings inside the main tent at Sunday’s Augustoberfest were a striking resemblance to life in Germany.

“I’d definitely come back. It’s a great time,” Crilly said.

Augustoberfest is run by the nonprofit Augustoberfest Charitable Foundation. Proceeds from the event help run the festival, and fund scholarships to local and Wesel students who participate in an exchange program, Giffin said.

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