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Chamber sounds call for vendors to reserve space for Oktoberfest

POSTED: July 21, 2011 6:17 p.m.

The Effingham Chamber of Commerce is issuing a call for all area vendors interested in participating in this year’s Effingham Oktoberfest to apply now.

“We are amazed at how many vendors, particularly food vendors, are applying early for our show,” said Chamber Director Rick Lott. “I think that says a lot about what we did last year with our first festival.”

Festival hours will be: Sept. 23 from noon-11 p.m. and Sept. 24 from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. at Rincon’s McCall Plaza.

Last year’s festival drew an estimated 3,000-3,500 visitors.

Lott added that while getting vendors in was a great thing for the event, he doesn’t want local vendors to be left out. The number of food vendors is limited to just 10-12 in an effort to ensure that there is enough business for all of them.

And the food vendors aren’t the only ones signing up early. He said there are currently nine artists and craftsmen signed up for the show. One of these, Lorraine Saunders, will travel up from Florida to show and sell her quilts.

“Lorraine was determined to do our show again since they did so well last year,” Lott said. “She told me they even sold three quilts before they even got their booth set up on Friday morning.”

Local non-profit organizations are already getting involved, some taking two booths this year instead of the single booths they had last year. Lott said the children’s area will be expanded under its new sponsorship by the Effingham Health System.

Suncountry Amusements in Rincon will provide activities for the kids and are planning to bring a rock wall for this year’s festival.

During the day on Friday and Saturday local entertainment acts will be featured and spots on the schedule are filling in fast.

In fact, at this writing, there is only one available spot on Friday afternoon. On Friday night, Cumulus Broadcasting will sponsor a Battle of the Bands where local bands compete to win the title and nearly $1,000 in cash and prizes. Then on Saturday night the audience will be treated to a trip down memory lane with legendary band the Drifters. You’ll remember their hit songs, “Up on the Roof” and “Under the Boardwalk.” German music will be front-stage Friday and Saturday as the popular Channelheimers Oompah Band performs several times each day.

One new element for this year’s event will be a covered Beergarden area. A huge 40 by 80 square foot tent will cover this area with tables and chairs for guests. German and American beers will be available along with Coca Cola products and water.

Festival T-shirts also will be sold in this area, as well as at the Coke booth. There will be a nominal $2 charge for a wristband showing proof of age for alcohol consumption this year.

Lott said there will be a package deal available, giving the purchaser a wristband, souvenir mug and first beer for $5. Refills will be $3 for Miller Lite, and slightly more for the German brews. He said the wristband fee helps to pay for the large tent and that the use of wristbands in general, is a way to maintain control over underage drinking. Lott said last year’s crowd was extremely well-behaved and there were no incidents whatsoever.

The Springfield Revitalization Corporation will provide volunteers for the beer booth, with a portion of the proceeds going to their efforts to fund renovations to the historic Mars Theatre. The VICA club of Effingham County will handle volunteers for the Coke trailer.

To assist with parking this year, Boy Scout Troop 665 will be stationed in the ballfields on McCall Road just past the festival site, to direct traffic and keep anyone from blocking anyone else in. The former Landscape Depot lot will be used for parking and will have better signage directing cars there. Volunteers will run golf cart shuttles between the festival site and the parking areas.

Yet another new element to complete this year’s Oktoberfest will be the first Effingham Oktoberfest Cross Country Invitational Race. The foot race will be open to varsity boys and girls and also a JV and open race. The race is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. Interested runners should contact Laura Soles at (912) 308-0036 for more information.

The Chamber emphasized that an event of this size can’t be produced without the good will and support of sponsors.

“We’re grateful for our presenting sponsor, Comcast Cable, our music stage sponsor, Savannah Technical College, and everyone who is helping to make this possible,” Lott said. “Sponsorships are still available, so there’s still time to get involved in this fun community event.”

Currently the list of Oktoberfest Sponsors includes: Comcast, Savannah Tech, Georgia Power, Effingham Health System, Coca Cola, Cumulus Broadcasting, Effingham Herald, Effingham Magazine, Effingham Now, Fuller Chevrolet, Miller Lite, Verizon Wireless, Heritage Bank of the South, Harold’s Body Shop, Wells Fargo Insurance Services, DeWitt Insurance, Burns Insurance Associates, the Coastal Bank, and the City of Guyton.

The Effingham Oktoberfest is a production of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce. Information on sponsorships, vendor spots or general information may be obtained by calling 754-3301 or emailing ricklott@effinghamcounty.com.

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