Spirits run high at Russell Oktoberfest fête

See why all say this first-ever outer East Portland Oktoberfest was far more fun than simply a sausage dinner …

Volunteers are ready to welcome guests to their church’s first-ever Oktoberfest, held in the Russell neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

That other Oktoberfests were taking place on the same weekend didn’t concern the organizers of the very first one held at the Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, on the late afternoon and evening of Saturday, September 24.

With balmy weather and a light breeze, the church’s wide patio made a delightful setting for the traditional late-summer celebration.

Pausing for a moment, to let the festive evening swirl around them, are organizer and chef Ron Glanville, and Pastor Don Frueh.

“I’m very excited that this seems to be a very popular and sold-out festival in the community,” said chef and chief organizer Ron Glanville.

“It’s not just church members, we have a lot of community members here too, and we’re very excited that they’ve come to join us for a fun evening,” Glanville told East Portland News.

Three of the dozen volunteers who put on the Oktoberfest – church Council members Travis Martin, Oscar Mangalindan, and Clay Osburn – tend hot sausages at the grill.

The 150 or so guests were clearly enjoying the supper, and many were dancing to the lively music.

“We do have plenty of hearty food,” Glanville observed. “We’ve prepared about 200 sausages, 50 pounds of sauerkraut, about 70 pounds of potato salad, pickles – you name it, we’ve got it.”

Pretzels, tied on a ribbon, were also a very popular item.

Accordion players Steve Krause and John Martin – with music synthesizers built into their instruments – sound like a full band, as they play another energetic polka song.

Bruno Reule, Isolde Reule, and Ramona Reule in show off their genuine, traditional German attire.

“In the old tradition, people would wear pretzels around the neck,” explained Glanville. “It’s like home, for people who grew up in Germany. I’m not sure why, but maybe [that was done] so they could hold a beer in each hand!” he joked.

Their Church Council had been looking for a brand new idea to replace their flagging church raffle, Glanville said.

“In talking over the ideas, we realized we do have a large German influence in our church that goes back for decades,” Glanville said. “This came naturally: Thinking that something like an Oktoberfest would be a successful event here.”

It wouldn’t be an authentic Oktoberfest without beer, would it? – Here, poured by the owner of Gateway Brewing Company, Joel Sheley.

Pastor Don Frueh was all smiles as he said, “We’re happy to see it is being very well received.”

Watching the high spirits at this congenial festival, Glanville said, “The best part, for me, is watching people enjoying themselves, dancing, and celebrating, on such a lovely day; I couldn’t ask for better.”

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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