Oktoberfest returns to Liverpool park Saturday

EAST LIVERPOOL — For the seventh year, the East Liverpool and Calcutta Rotary clubs will sponsor the popular Oktoberfest from noon 8 p.m. Saturday at Thompson Park, featuring a full day of activities.

Polka music will be performed by the Eric Noltkamper Band, and a variety of German foods will be prepared and sold by local restaurants and vendors.

There will be 10 different seasonal beers for tasting, including Leinenkugel’s Harvest Patch Shandy, Sam Adams Oktoberfest, Columbus Brewing FestBier and a Hefeweizen by Columbiana’s BirdFish Brewing Company, as well as an Oktoberfest by Lisbon’s Numbers Brewing Company.

As in past years, the event will also provide activities for the younger set, with face painting, pony rides, a bounce house, train rides and pumpkin painting.

Cornhole games and buggy rides will be offered for all ages.

Some have questioned how alcohol can be served at the park, which was willed to the city by local composer Will Thompson with the provision that no alcohol be permitted on the grounds.

Former long-time park board President Burl Warrick said that, when the Rotary first broached the idea of the Oktoberfest — and the obvious sale of alcohol — he researched for several hours, looking at policies held by many other communities that host such festivals.

“I figured all the problems they had, they had already answered for us,” Warrick said.

He compiled the information, along with a host of rules and regulations, which he took to city Law Director Charles Payne for review, which resulted in a healthy list of regulations the promoters of the Oktoberfest must uphold in order to serve alcohol in the park that one day of the year.

No other agency or organization is permitted to serve alcohol in the park, Warrick noted.

As for the bequest from Thompson prohibiting alcohol, Warrick pointed out the donation of land was made more than 100 years ago when times and society were much different, saying, “It is in the will, along with a long laundry list of ‘can’t haves.'”

He said, for example, the will prohibits breaking horses to pull carts inside the park, games of chance, as well as a lot of other “antiquated things.”

Warrick said when his family has held reunions in the park, they would play bingo, which, according to Thompson’s will, would actually be prohibited.

The rules set in place for the event allow the park board to shut it down at any time if it violates the regulations, Warrick said, noting, “We even regulate the size of drinks that can be served.”

Rotary is required to obtain a state liquor permit for one day sale of alcohol, which it does each year.

He said there are two sets of state law governing parks, one for bequeathed property and one for purchased property, and the one for bequeathed property “gives a wide range of latitude.”

Warrick said, “This wasn’t something we did arbitrarily. As long as they meet the rules we put in place, it goes quite well. The park is more than 100 years old. We have to change with the times. (The Oktoberfest) is a good thing.”

Rotarian David Simms said proceeds from the event go toward Rotary charitable projects. Recent projects included revamping the pool at Thompson Park, giving scholarships to seniors at East Liverpool and Beaver Local, and supporting local groups such as Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, FISH and the Ups of Downs Downs Syndrome group, among others.