Octoberfest draws crowds to Lowell

LOWELL-The warm weather drew thousands to the 38th Annnal Octoberfest on Lowell’s Buell Island this weekend. And it was perfect weather for selling ice cream.

“It’s the best weekend I’ve had so far this year, and the crowds have been great,” said Dan Lang, owner of Uncle Dan’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream.

He’s been making the ice cream utilizing an antique steam engine at a host of summer festivals and other events throughout the region since 2007.

“We have nine different flavors this weekend, but blackberry, black walnut, and pumpkin seem to have been the favorites,” Lang said.

Nearby Dale and Dixie Myers from Stockport were selling a large variety of crafts and artwork from a tent beside the recreational vehicle where the couple spent the festival weekend.

“We’ve been coming to the Octoberfest for 17 years now, and we always do good here,” Dixie said. “In fact we sell more here in one day than we can do in four days elsewhere.”

Janet and Jim Cowan of Parkersburg, owners of J.C. Merchandising, brought a variety of wooden yard decorations and flags to the Octoberfest.

“We’ve been coming here for 25 years, and enjoy it,” Janet said. “Saturday the business was so good that we sold completely out of some items.”

Octoberfest Committee member Jim Lenhart said the event started off with a big parade to Buell Island Saturday.

“I was shocked. We had quite a turnout for the parade,” he said. “Last year we had some rain during Octoberfest, so this year is a lot better. There are quite a few food and crafts vendors here, and I’ve seen quite a few flea marketers, too.”

Lenhart was selling tickets for several prizes that would be raffled off during the festival.

“The proceeds we raise go back into the Octoberfest and to support the park,” he said.

Committee member Steve Weber was running the cash register at the food booth where approximately 1,000 barbecued half-chickens were sold over the weekend.

“Saturday we had one long line all day,” he said. “We sold about 700 chicken dinners, and only had around 300 left to sell today.”

The chicken, slow-roasted on long racks over a wood fire, is a festival favorite.

“It’s really good,” said Dianna Rauch of Vincent as she and husband Rod enjoyed a plate of chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes Sunday afternoon.

“We don’t come every year-it’s been raining or cold the last couple of years,” Rod said. “But the weather’s been great this time.”

Nearby the unmistakable aroma of apple butter wafted through the air as members of the Dungannon United Methodist Church took turns stirring three large kettles of the fall favorite.

“We had the kettles on by 8 a.m., and have to keep stirring for four or five hours until it’s done,” said Tammy Wells as she plied her kettle of apple butter with a wooden paddle.

She said jars of the butter sell well at the Octoberfest, and many people purchase them to give as holiday gifts.

“They can end up as far away as Florida and California,” Wells said.

After some years of absence from the Octoberfest, Naomi Rowe of Lowell was back with pony rides for the kids over the weekend.

“We used to do this years ago, but all of my children grew up and I didn’t have anyone to help me,” she said. “This year my grandchildren are old enough to lend a hand, so we’re back.”

Rowe said the response was great.

“We gave 235 pony rides Saturday,” she said. “And a lot of those kids told me it was the first time they’d ever ridden a horse.”