Tuesday, September 11, 2001

MainStrasse Oktoberfest aids non-profits

Working at booths gives sense of community

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — For many of the 150,000 who attended last weekend's MainStrasse Oktoberfest, the annual celebration was a chance to enjoy more than the usual beer, brats and German bands. For nearly a dozen Greater Cincinnati non-profit groups, the MainStrasse Village Association's major festivals — Oktoberfest and Maifest — help them pay for everything from ball field maintenance to school computers.

        At last weekend's Oktoberfest, adults from 11 non-profit organizations ran 18 beer and game booths to help finance their groups' activities, said Paul Wolgin, operations director for the MainStrasse Village Association.

        “We're able to subsidize our organization with these funds,” said Greg Popham of the Northern Kentucky Hurricanes, a year-round baseball team for 12- and 13-year-old boys in Kenton, Boone and Campbell counties. “We're able to provide the necessary equipment for our kids so that they can play at a higher level.”

        The Hurricanes pay tournament fees with festival proceeds, and they hope to soon purchase a low-cost pitching machine with the help of the $1,500 to $2,500 they net at each festival.

        “Without this money, we would have to charge our parents more, or we would be selling candy or raffle tickets,” Mr. Popham said. “We don't want to have to send our kids door to door, or have them doing car washes every Saturday.”

        For about the past five years Immaculate Conception Academy in Norwood has raised money for textbooks and school programs by providing cleanup after the MainStrasse festivals for a stipend.

        At the small parochial school, all 30 students and the entire church work at least one shift during the three-day festival, said Sister Mary Agnes, the school's assistant principal.

        For many students, the cleanup allows them to fulfill a community service requirement for scholarships, Sister Mary said.

        “Most of the students have jobs or homework or on afterschool sports teams, but they all help with the cleanup,” Sister Mary said. “It's very gratifying.”

        The Latonia Youth Club also raises money at Main Strasse festivals to support its baseball, soccer, and basketball teams, as well as its girls softball program. Daryl Black of the club estimated about 300 youths are served.

        David Schawe, president of the Holy Cross Boosters, said his group's festival proceeds help supplement what the Covington school is able to spend on its athletic program — everything from uniforms to referee fees to gym maintenance.

        “(The festival proceeds) are a small part of our budget, but every bit helps,” Mr. Schawe said. “It's fun to work the festivals too. The crowds are friendly and courteous, and it provides a sense of community for some of the parents.”

Few problems confront Oktoberfest organizers

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