This is the annual fall weekend that's so nice it gets celebrated twice.
The 41st annual edition of Oktoberfest will be celebrated on Friday, Oct. 4, at Frontier Park in Hays. Meanwhile, Fort Hays State University will celebrate its annual Homecoming from Oct. 2 through 6. The twin events draw many thousands of local and out-of-town visitors each year.
The local Oktoberfest sprang more than four decades ago from the combined efforts of Fort Hays State University, the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce and county residents who shared a German ancestry. The idea was to create an event to celebrate the essence of the community and complement the university's Homecoming. It was intended to be the ideal town-gown partnership. After the Volga German Society was organized a few years later, it took over management of Oktoberfest, with continuing assistance from the university and the chamber. More recently, the Ellis County Historical Society has become involved.
For the second year, the historical society will sponsor "Honor our Heritage" activities as part of Oktoberfest. Last year those activities were offered in a separate venue north of the dike in Frontier Park, but organizers learned that some people, especially older folks, found the dike to be too much of a physical barrier.
"By having us all together, we hope it will facilitate seeing everything," explained Donald Westfall, executive director of the historical society.
The idea of providing a family-friendly, alcohol-free experience at Oktoberfest will continue, but the separation will be in time rather than place. The historical society will offer its activities in and around two large tents on the Oktoberfest grounds. The "heritage" activities begin at 8:30 a.m., which means parents can bring their children and enjoy a beer-free zone until the Oktoberfest keg is tapped at 11:30 a.m.
The activities will continue throughout the day. The historical demonstrations will include corn shelling by Ed Breir, soap making by Judy Walker, rug hooking by Pat Albrecht, saddle making by Will Johnson and goat milking by Coraleen Bunner. Historical interpretations will include Abraham Lincoln by Steve Burns, Wild Bill Hickok by Dave Wood, Elizabeth Custer by Jaime Schlesinger, Alexander Ramsey by John Trabert, a cavalry trooper by Rob Wasinger and a German immigrant farmer by Nolan Sump (afternoon only). Free draft-horse wagon rides will be provided by Bob Denning from 9 a.m. to noon starting south of the bridge over Big Creek. More activities may yet be added.
The original Oktoberfest will continue with beer, music, food and booths until the last keg is tapped at 5:45 p.m.
The first major public event to kick off the five days of Oktoberfest/Homecoming is the Tiger Bonfire and Pep Rally at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, on the east lawn of the Robbins Center on the FHSU campus.
The four days of activities will formally conclude with a Polka Mass from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday at the Kansas National Guard Armory.
Homecoming has a superhero theme this year -- Victor E. Saves the Day! -- and, as usual, offers a broad range of activities. Highlights include:
· Superhero Leadership -- Bill Rosemann, editor at Marvel, 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.
· Tiger Alumni and Friends Golf Tournament -- registration at 8 a.m. Oct. 3, Smoky Hill Country Club.
· Tiger Alumni and Friends Social -- 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Robbins Center.
· Tiger Bonfire and Pep Rally -- 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 on the east lawn of the Robbins Center.
· Campus Tours -- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 4, beginning at the Memorial Union.
· Half Century Club Luncheon -- 11 a.m. Oct. 4 in the Memorial Union.
· Football Reunion Social -- 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Schmidt-Bickle Indoor Training Facility.
· Men and Women’s Basketball Reunion Social -- 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Thirsty’s Pub & Grill, 2704 Vine.
· Alumni and Friends Awards & Recognition Banquet and Social -- 6 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Memorial Union.
· Music and Theatre Department Reunion Wine and Cheese Reception at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Robbins Center.
· 5K Tiger Run/Walk -- Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 5 in the Robbins Center.
· Men and Women's Basketball Reunions Continental Breakfast & Tour -- 8:30 a.m. Oct. 5 in Victor E. Lounge at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
· Class of 1953 and Class of 1963 Reunion Breakfasts -- 9 a.m. Oct. 5 in the Memorial Union.
· Music Reunion Instrumental Rehearsal -- 9 a.m. Oct. 5 in Lewis Field Stadium.
· Music Reunion Vocal Pre-game Rehearsal -- 10:30 a.m. Oct. 5 in Room 115, Malloy Hall.
· Heather Hall Dedication -- 11 a.m. at the former Agnew Hall site.
· Wrestling Luncheon and Takedown Competition -- 11:15 a.m. Oct. 5 in Victor E. Lounge at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
· Homecoming Parade -- 1 p.m. Oct. 5 in downtown Hays.
· Men and Women's Basketball Reunion Alumni Pick-up Games -- 3 p.m. Oct. 5 in Gross Memorial Coliseum.
· Football Reunion Tailgate -- 4 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5 in Tiger Alley adjacent to Lewis Field Stadium.
· Men and Women's Basketball Reunion Tailgate -- 4 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5 in Tiger Alley adjacent to Lewis Field Stadium.
· Tiger Friends and Family Picnic -- 4 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5 on east side of Lewis Field Stadium.
· FHSU vs. William Jewell College Football Game -- Pre-game Ceremonies at 6 p.m. Oct. 5, followed by kickoff at 7 p.m., Lewis Field Stadium.
· Music Reunion Vocal Performance -- 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5 during pre-game Ceremony at Lewis Field Stadium.
· Music Reunion Instrumental Performance -- 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 during halftime at Lewis Field Stadium.
· Music and Theatre Department Reunion Social/Jam Session -- 10 p.m., Oct. 5 at Thirsty’s Brew Pub & Grill, 2704 Vine.
· Alpha Gamma Delta Open House -- 2:30 to 5 p.m. Oct. 5 at 409 W. Eighth.
· Delta Zeta Open House -- 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at 410 W. Sixth.
· FHSU musical, "Crazy for You" -- 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2,3 and 4 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 6, Felten-Start Theatre.
· Opening Reception for Art Exhibit by Matt Ballou -- 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 3, Rarick Hall.
· Leadership Studies Immersion Experience -- noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 3 in Room 235 of Rarick Hall, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. at Gella's, 117 E. 11th.
For a complete schedule of Homecoming events and ticket information, visit goforthaysstate.com or call 785-628-4430.