Community cel­e­brates at 21st an­nual Ok­to­ber­fest

The Ambler Gazette - - DATEBOOK - By Jodi Ben­jamin

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.”

Gazette staff pho­tos by BOB RAINES

The McK­endry Broth­ers en­ter­tain on the steps of the Ambler Bor­ough build­ing.

Shayne McKer­nan whirls about in the Or­botron ride at Ambler Ok­to­ber­fest.

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