The sound of polka music filled the air at Maysville’s eighth annual Oktoberfest.
Saturday morning, the celebration kicked off with the Humane Sciety of Buffalo Trace’s weiner dog races held at Rotary Park. A large crowd gathered to see the spectacle of the stubby-legged lap dogs running on a marked course in hopes of being named champion.
Once the pups and their owners were registered, none other than Maysville Burgermeister (Mayor) David Cartmell, decked out in his lederhosen in true German fashion, sounded his trombone to signal the Call to the Post.
After three rounds of each age division, the winners faced off in one final heat. Winner of the final round would take home the title of grand champion.
After the announcer shouted ‘go,’ the dogs were off. In a short, but decisive race, Bruce, a duchshund belonging to Kaylin Mitchell from Tollesboro, bounded toward the finish line and into the winners circle.
Mitchell said she had no worries Bruce would win, having already won the grand champion title for, now three years in a row. Mitchell’s go-to strategy usually involves luring Bruce with treats, though she also said Bruce just really wants to be around her.
“I’m just proud of my boy,” Mitchell said.
Cartmell says he’s always sounded the Call to the Post for this special race, and watching those elongated canines take off is among one of his favorite events at Oktoberfest.
“The dogs seem to like the trombone better than they do the trumpet,” he said, noting he usually plays a trumpet for the call.
Through the collective efforts of the city and the Maysville Rotary Club, Oktoberfest is an event that draws in people with food, fun, music and, yes, beer.
“Dawn Browning is in charge of it now, but under the auspices of the Rotary Park,” Cartmell said, “and so all of the Rotarians pitch in, and it’s made a really good festival.”
Browning, who is also a member of the Maysville Rotary Club, says working as chair of the Oktoberfest board was a fun and rewarding experience, especially seeing the end result unfold in downtown Maysville. She too shares in the notion of Maysville’s German connection fitting perfectly with the atmosphere of this German festival.
Browning says she would love for Oktoberfest to continue to grow as the years progress.
“The concept of having Oktoberfest was to not only, for the organization that was sponsoring it, to raise funds, but to invite others in.”
According to Cartmell, he and Browning work together on the wiener dog race as well as the German Auto show he organizes.
“There’s a big German population here,” Cartmell said, “and I think one of the driving forces of it is that Stober Industries is here. They’re Germans, their plant manager here was instrumental in putting it all together at first and Stober paid for the flags.”
Other companies in Maysville have also taken part in promoting and participating in Oktoberfest, Cartmell said, which is evident through the various activities unique to this event, like the tug-of-war and log sawing competitions.
A particularly competitive event, according to Cartmell, is the stein hoisting competition, where contestants have to raise steins filled with beer for as long as they can.
“The stein hoisting was won by a deputy sheriff from Hamilton County, Ohio,” he said, referring to Friday’s competition.
Cartmell went on to say that very same man had won the stein hoisting competition in Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest and possibly Cleveland, indicating this event is sure to have some steep competition this year.
Possibly the greatest thing Cartmell said he was looking forward to in this festival, as surely everyone else was as well, was the German food.
“The great thing about the German heritage here is that we still have people that make their own sausage,” he said, “from their old world recipes when they came as immigrants here, and it’s just nice to see. This is a town full of Pfeffers and Schumachers—there’s just a lot of German heritage here, and cooking goes along with that.”