Friday, September 07, 2001

MainStrasse kicks off fest


German heritage honored

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — For Thursday's ceremonial opening of the MainStrasse Village Association's Oktoberfest, everyone was German for a day, even Kentucky's second couple.

        Lt. Gov. Steve Henry greeted the crowd and introduced his wife — former Miss America Heather French Henry, and their infant daughter Harper Renee — in halting German at the festival's kickoff luncheon in Goebel Park.

IF YOU GO
   • What: 23rd annual MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest
   • When: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. today, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
   • Where: Booths and entertainment are spread over four city blocks along the Sixth Street promenade and Philadelphia Street, as well as into Goebel Park in Covington's MainStrasse Village.
   • Attractions: German and other ethnic foods, more than 90 arts and crafts vendors, and musical entertainment that includes German bands, folk, rock 'n roll, blues and country music. Also features pony rides, balloon makers and special children's rides.
   For $12, festivalgoers can buy an “all you can ride ticket” from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
   • Event parking: Free shuttle service will run continuously, stopping at Fifth Street near The Westin Hotel in Cincinnati, the IRS parking lot in Covington at Fourth and Johnson Sts., Jillian's parking lot in Covington, Covington city lots at Seventh St. and Scott Blvd. and the RiverCenter complex, and the Fifth Third lot in Fort Wright at the corner of Dixie Hwy. and Sleepy Hollow Dr.
   • Information: For directions or other information, call (513) 357-6246 or (859) 491-0458.
        The orthopedic surgeon then joined Covington officials in making more than a half-dozen taps of the official Oktoberfest beer keg to open the 23rd annual German-themed event.

        Billed as one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society, the MainStrasse Oktoberfest opens at 5 p.m. today.

        While he acknowledged his background “is probably English,” Mr. Henry praised Northern Kentucky's German heritage and strong sense of family.

        He also complimented festival organizers for putting together a three-day celebration that traditionally draws more than 150,000, including “many from the other side of the river.”

        “Every year, this gets a little bit bigger and a little bit better,” said Covington Vice Mayor Jerry Bamberger.

        In keeping with the festival's German heritage, Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, president of the German American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati received a Kentucky Colonel certificate and a key to the city of Covington on Thursday.

        “People don't realize how strong the German heritage is in Northern Kentucky,” the Green Township resident said. Evidence of that heritage is present, he said, in everything from numerous churches founded by Germans to fieldstone houses, a traditional German building form.

        Besides the usual beer booths and German food staples from goetta to strudel, this year's festival will showcase Heuboden Musikanten, a German band from Bavaria.

        Fourteen members of the band will entertain crowds at five Tristate German-themed events this month, including Cincinnati's Oktoberfest, Sept. 14-16.

        “They were here several years ago, and they were a lot of fun,” said Mick Noll, a Northern Kentucky caterer who has manned a grill at each of the 22 previous MainStrasse Oktoberfests.

        Also new this year is a Warsteiner beer emporium serving the world's No.1-selling German beer.

        But lest festival-goers engage in underage drinking or imbibe too much, uniformed and plainclothes police officers will be scattered throughout the festival area and its perimeter to maintain order.

        “We will not tolerate any problems,” said Covington Police Spc. George Russell, who is handling the festival's security detail. “It's a family event, and we want to keep it that way.”

        Taxis and Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky buses will be on hand to transport any guests who've had too much to drink. Workers at the beer booths also have received training on how to deal with inebriated customers, including refusal of service.

        Members of the MainStrasse Village Association have mailed 900 fliers with the phone number of the event's command center, which will take complaints from residents, said Donna Kremer, administrative coordinator for the MainStrasse Village Association.
       



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