Community celebrates at 21st annual Oktoberfest
Journal Register News Service
Although fall may have technically VWDUWHG ZHHNV DJR, LW ZDV RIfiFLDOOy uVKered in on the streets of Ambler Oct. 6, with the borough’s 21st annual Oktoberfest celebration.
Oktoberfest Ambler-style is marked not Ey EHHU VWHLnV RYHUflRZLnJ ZLWK IURWKy brew, but rather by family fun and community spirit.
Butler Avenue was transformed Saturday into an outdoor market, lined with more than a hundred booths run by Ambler merchants as well as outside vendors. It was a veritable shopper’s paradise from jewelry, clothing and accessories to original prints and vintage photos, from handmade baby bibs and other precious frills to unique ceramic, wood and leather works.
Some merchants even offered visitors the opportunity to create, with tie-dyeing and painting at the Mermaid Art Studio DnG flRZHU DUUDnJLnJ Ln VHDVRnDO FHUDPLF pumpkins at the Ambler Flower Shop, for example.
Finally, a welcome sight for weary visitors was Essenza Day Spa’s booth with LWV FKDLU PDVVDJH DnG PLnL-VSD GDy UDIflH.
With more than 5,000 people strolling through Ambler during the daylong event, food in all its varieties was also on the menu at Oktoberfest. Upon entering, visitors were greeted by the aroma of ribs, pulled pork and brisket. The Oktoberfest fare also included hot dogs, pizza, doughnuts, funnel cake, kettle corn, corndogs and gelato. Included in this lineup were the cookies and cupcakes of The Ambler Bake Shop, which opened its doors just four days before Oktoberfest.
From her post at the bake shop’s booth, Crystal Watson said, “Oktoberfest is awesome, and Ambler is a great community, really close-knit — the businesses and the families.”
The smells and tastes of Oktoberfest’s gastronomic delights were also accompanied by the sounds of live music. The entertainment also included carnival games and attractions, face painting and a performance by Ambler dance studio Addicted 2 Dance.
While admiring her daughter Katie’s selection of the “Tropical Princess” face paint design, Ambler resident and Oktoberfest regular Tracey Lehman said, “The event is about people in the community having a great time.”
And according to Michael Berkowitz, of Ambler, this year’s event seemed to offer more than prior years.
“My impression is that there are more vendors and games this year — and more people,” he said. Sharing a bag of kettle corn with his daughter, Rachel, he added, “Oktoberfest gave us an excuse to go out and do something as a family.”
New to Oktoberfest was the Rose family of Maple Glen.
“It’s awesome. I’m having lots of fun,” said 11-year-old Zach. “It’s a great way to spend a Saturday.”
“It’s really cool,” chimed in his 8-yearold sister, Zoe, who said she especially loved the free jelly beans, a reward from the Ambler Flower Shop for Zach’s corUHFW JuHVV RI WKH PyVWHUy flDYRU — VWUDZberry shortcake.
It’s more than just jelly beans, though, for Gene McGonagle, owner of the Ambler Flower Shop and spokesman for APEOHU 0DLn 6WUHHW, WKH nRnSURfiW RUJDnization dedicated to the continued revitalization of Ambler.
For McGonagle, the highlight of Oktoberfest is “local people supporting local businesses. The opportunity to keep it local is what helps to keep a town thriving,” he said.
This goal underlies labor-intensive events like Oktoberfest, which was produced through collaboration between Ambler Borough and Ambler Main Street, and required the support of scores of volunteers — both residents and business owners, according to McGonagle.
This commitment to Ambler runs deep. Many of the merchants have roots here. McGonagle himself grew up in Ambler, as did Mary Giampa, who attended Oktoberfest as a child and now as owner of the Ambler shop Sew Vintage Boutique. Similarly, Rosa Zeibari lives in Ambler, as do all of her employees from the Chameleon Accessories Boutique, which she co-owns with her sister, Ani Kechian.
Jeanette Talese, another Ambler resident and owner of the recently opened Sweet Briar Café, put it this way: “We are making an investment here and a commitment to our community. I love this town; my family loves this town. I think there’s a new spark of life and growth happening here, which is really exciting.”
The McKendry Brothers entertain on the steps of the Ambler Borough building.
Shayne McKernan whirls about in the Orbotron ride at Ambler Oktoberfest.