By: Nicholas Russo
The village of Williamsville held its annual Oktoberfest celebration on Friday, Sept. 21, and Saturday, Sept. 22, host to a number of activities in celebration of German culture and the harvest season.
Like last year, the two-day festival was host to a bevy of family-oriented activities, including scarecrow making at Mischler’s Florists and a haunted house at the Lehigh Valley Depot, as well as the events typically beholden Oktoberfest celebrations – the “beer hall” tent, traditional German music, and ample, heady German cuisine.
This year also marked the third-annual “Follow the Lederhosen” 5k and 1 Mile “Fun Run”, with all proceeds from runners and sponsors benefiting Oishei Children’s Hospital, the only freestanding children’s hospital in Buffalo and New York State as a whole.
The festivities began Friday afternoon with the tapping of the first keg at Island Park, followed by a series of concerts by local bands, and continued through Saturday evening.Among the festivities on Saturday were the “Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off” at The Irishman – this year’s winner a 685lb pumpkin named “Pearl”, grown by Elaine from Pendleton, New York – and the farmer’s market, which normally runs weekly in the parking lot of Amherst Town Hall on Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Bloom & Rose, a stand offering fresh, homemade Knishes, is one of the newest additions to the farmer’s market. Felicia Lenzo and Josh Lankford, who ran the stand last Saturday, said the business was the brainchild of their head chef Zach Rosenbloom, whose Jewish heritage inspired him to bring Knishes to the people of the village.
They hope to use the stand as a test for market research, hoping to open up a brick and mortar Jewish deli in the future.
Among the myriad businesses participating in this year’s festivities, Village Artisans offered “Kindercones” to all children who visited their shop on 5560 Main St. According to Deustche Welle, the tradition of “Kindercones” – or “Schultüte” in its native German – “dates back to the late 18th century” as a means of assuaging first-day fears for children entering the first grade.
Children were able to take their free cone and collect goodies for it around the village wherever a “Willkommen Wilhelm” poster was posted. Owner Debbie Steinbruckner noted there were children in the store all day, rarely seeing a lull in visitation.
Construction continued on Main Street, despite the festivities and traffic throughout the day. Mayor Dan Delano stated that paving was expected to be done “within a week”, and the construction project as a whole is expected to be completed by October 30.