Tuesday, July 02, 2002

RADEL: Cheviot fest

West side has smashing good time

        Excuse me, but my west-side pride is showing. Westfest 2002 was a resounding success.

        In their wildest dreams, organizers of Saturday's first taste of the west-side festival expected a crowd of 20,000 to eat, drink, listen to music and buy souvenirs along the streets of Cheviot.

        They should have dreamed bigger. City officials put the crowd size at 30,000 to 35,000.

        And they say west-siders are stay-at-homers.

        The crowd included locals as well as foreign visitors. Occupants of cars bearing license plates from Warren and Butler counties, Kentucky and Indiana cruised Cheviot's streets and asked for directions to Westfest.

        People brought an appetite. They bellied up to 27 food booths serving such west-side delicacies as fish sandwiches from the Crow's Nest, Kenning's ribs and Glier's goetta.

        While imported from Covington — definitely not a west-side community — the goetta was served by a caterer hailing from Hamilton County's western exposure. So it passed.

        Besides, Glier's probably sells the bulk of its spicy pork and oats concoction to the west-side ZIP Codes of 45211, -33 and -38.


Down the hatch

               The food and sweltering heat combined to help festivalgoers work up a powerful thirst. Of 55,600 beer tickets on hand, 43,000 were sold, emptying 100-plus kegs of beer.

        “People kept telling me how cool it was,” said Westfest founder Tony Lange. “Many thought it was awesome just to be able to stand in the streets of Cheviot and hold a cup of beer.”

        Ah, those simple west-siders. My people are so easily pleased.

        And all for a good cause. Westfest raised money for the Cheviot-Westwood Business Association's college scholarship fund. How much it raised will be determined after the bills are paid.

        “That'll decide how many days we'll do it next year,” said association President Bonnie Perrino.

        “Westfest was so phenomenal,” noted an enthused Cheviot Mayor J. Michael Laumann. “We're ready right now to make it two days next year and enlarge the size of the festival.”


Smooth fest

               For a first-time festival in the heart of Cheviot, Westfest went off without a hitch: from the placement of the booths and the variety on the food and music menus (frog legs and folk tunes) to the garbage pickup by Boy Scouts and the city's trash collectors who like to call themselves the G-men.

        This wasn't beginner's luck. Experience and planning showed.

        Home to the Harvest Home Fair for 142 years, Cheviot knows how to close streets, detour traffic, make crowds feel welcome and clean up after them.

        The burg of 9,015 souls includes the likes of me — descendants of hard-headed Germans — and those who think like hard-headed Germans. They want things done just right, neatly, orderly and low-key.

        Just do your job. Don't call attention to yourself. That's bragging. Or even worse, putting on airs, something the west side can't abide.

        That's why Tony Lange and other members of the business association quietly went about their work, spending nine months planning every detail of Westfest.

        “About the only thing we missed was the size of the crowd,” Tony said.

        They can try again next year. For Westfest 2003, maybe they'll close it with fireworks. Or hold a yard beautification contest leading up to the event. Have to look nice when guests come to Cheviot, a town of no pretense, where what you see is what you get.

        What they got at Saturday's Westfest was something everyone can always use — a good time.

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; e-mail cradel@enquirer.com.


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