East Dundee to debut Oktoberfest, hopes to draw visitors to downtown

With this weekend's Oktoberfest, the village of East Dundee may finally have an annual festival to call its own.

For years, it had ridden piggyback on West Dundee's Heritage Fest and Dickens in Dundee, and it has been the home to the local fire department's Firemen's Carnival.

It has never planned, coordinated and paid for its own party, said Lael Miller, village president. The St. Patrick's Day celebrations don't count because local restaurants plan and pay for it.

That will change at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, along North River Street, when the carnival rides begin to spin and the kegs are tapped for what trustees are hoping to be the first of many annual fall festivals. The festival will run through Sunday, Oct. 14.

"Every town has its local events. This will be East Dundee's," Miller said. "It will be a family-friendly event with food and entertainment. The only thing it won't have is a fireworks display."

East Dundee's Oktoberfest will have a scarecrow-building contest for businesses and organizations.

It will have local restaurants selling pretzels, brats, sauerkraut, and schnitzel, along with hot dogs and tacos. It will also have a stein-holding contest, polka music infused with punk rock, other musical entertainment and a maze.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, the village will offer another fall tradition by hosting a tailgate party for the Chicago Bears game.

"We'll have a jumbo screen set up under a warmed tent in case the weather is cold," said Jennifer Johnsen, East Dundee village administrator.

A list of events and their locations can be viewed on the internet at The page also allows residents to sign up as volunteers for the events.

The goals of the fall party is entice people to come to East Dundee's business district, eat at its restaurants and extend the festival season into fall.

"We've done a lot of work in our (River Street) business district," Miller said. "We want to show it off."

Those improvements include tearing down and constructing buildings, expanding parking and inviting businesses, mainly restaurants, to open their doors.

This year, village trustees decided not to contribute to last month's Heritage Fest party, so they could save money and plan their own festival.

"After all the sponsorships, the village probably will spend the same amount on Oktoberfest, from $10,000 to $15,000, as it did on Heritage Fest," she said.

The money is worth it, though, she said.

There's another price to consider before the party even starts. To set up the attractions and carnival rides, roads in the business district will be closed.

Streets closed on Tuesday, Oct. 9 will be:

• Railroad Street, between Third Street and Fourth Street,

• Hill Street, from Third Street to River Street,

• The village parking lot behind Caboose,

• And, Meier Street, between Barrington Avenue and Railroad Street.

Streets closed on Wednesday, Oct. 10 will be:

• River Street, between Barrington Avenue and Jackson Street,

• Hill Street, between River Street and Fourth Street.

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