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Oktoberfest draws thousands to Glenville

Oktoberfest draws thousands to Glenville

Annual event a showcase of German culture
Oktoberfest draws thousands to Glenville
Dancers polka to 'Roll Out the Barrel' at the 10th annual Glenville Oktoberfest at Maalwyck Park Saturday.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

GLENVILLE - German dog breeds, German lager brewing, German Lederhosen clothes, all were on display at the 10th annual Glenville Oktoberfest Saturday.

Heather Peterson, co-chairwoman of the six-person Glenville Oktoberfest committee, said she first got involved with the activity as a Girl Scout troop leader a few years ago, and she's watched it grow to an annual tradition that requires at least 250 volunteers and draws an estimated 10,000 people to Maalwyck Park.

Peterson said there were so many events — including rock climbing walls, helicopter rides, Biergarten tents, games for youngsters and adults, crafts, live music and other activities — the Glenville Oktoberfest committee decided to create a mall-style map, with color-coded icons displayed near the hospitality tent, which showed where everything was located at the sprawling festival.

"I think this year's turnout is very comparable to last year's," Peterson said.

Some of the unique German-themed events included the second-annual Dachshund Dash, a dog race that plays off the common-mispronunciation of "Dash-hound" for the German dog breed.

Danielle Gabriel and her husband Tom of Schenectady, operate a foster home for Dachshunds through the All American Dachshund Rescue, an organization founded in Lewisburg, Tenn.,to help find homes for the high number of Dachshunds who are dumped from puppy mills and abandoned by owners.

Danielle Gabriel said the Dachshund Dash was so successful in raising awareness for her organization last year, they decided to do it again, with a few modifications. She said instead of three-heats of races, they decided to cut it down to two, in order to not over-fatigue the Dachshunds, a dog breed not normally known for its racing prowess.

"We're looking for foster homes, mainly right now, but people can also help us by volunteering to help transport dogs. Everything is volunteer, housing them, feeding them," Gabriel said. "Sometimes people see our dog, Charlie, around Schenectady and they tie-us to [Oktoberfest], so that's good. Charlie lost his first race today. Some random come-upper came in and stole his thunder."

More information about Dachshund rescue is available at allamericandachshundrescue.org. 

Peterson said some of the other new activities at Oktoberfest this year included the SUNY Schenectady Food Truck and the school's craft brewery tent. 

A commonly heard question at Oktoberfest is 'Do you have any German in you?" 

Zachery Clubine, a teaching assistant and brew student at SUNY Schenectady, said he's 100 percent German and he can even name the German towns from which his family hails.

"My grandmother's side is from Hamburg, my grandfather's side is from Hamelin," he said. 

Clubine, who was wearing green, gold and burgundy Lederhosen, said the craft brewery program at SUNY Schenectady has about 75 students, offers a certificate program and an associates degree, and is producing entrepreneurs who are starting their own businesses in the Capital Region and elsewhere. He said the brewery program tent at Oktoberfest showed a demonstration of the process of how to make a Märzen, a traditional Oktoberfest craft beer. The beer takes time to make. 

"We've had multiple people come through saying, 'When can we taste this, a couple of hours?' No, it takes quite a bit of time, a traditional Märzen is a lager that takes 30 days to lager and ferment. So, it's not going to be ready for quite some time," he said.

Another popular new activity was the YMCA of Glenville GaGa Ball, an Israeli variation of dodge ball played inside an octagon. 

Dom Lemorta, the basketball director at the YMCA acted as the referee for the game Saturday. He said he'd never heard of the game before, but the many youngsters who piled into the octagon know the rules better than he does. 

"They told me the other day we were going to do GaGa Ball, and I said, 'What the heck is that?' " Lemorta recalled. 

Zach Place, a ninth grader from Scotia, said he learned GaGa Ball at summer camp. 

"There is skill involved, but really it's a game of strategy," he said, after being knocked out, explaining that one of the keys is to try to eliminate the best players first. 

Duncan VanWely, 11, of Glenville, a GaGa Ball purist, said he also learned the game at summer camp. 

"They're not really playing it the correct way," he said. "The key is the way you play, whether its knees down or waist down. The right way is knees down. You're not allowed to get down and 'turtle' — is what we call it — and you're not allowed to hit the ball more than once, unless you bounce it off the wall."

Jeff Calder, the K-9 administrative director for the Schenectady Sheriff's Office, ran an event displaying the capabilities of the four police dogs in his unit, two of the them German Shepherds, one a Belgian Malinois, and one jail-specialist Labrador Retriever. 

Calder said the sheriff's account for 95 percent of the dog unit capability in Schenectady County. He said the dogs can cost between $5,000 and $10,000, not counting training, and are useful for drug detection, bomb protection, suspect apprehension and handler protection. 

Calder said, although police units are looking for more than just a "big dog" the trend toward using Belgian Malinois, for their supposedly sturdier hips, rather than German Shepherds is a little more hype than substance in his view. He said the venerable German Shepherd is a versatile police dog capable of many law enforcement tasks. 

"I say any dog is a good dog," Calder said. 

Peterson said the Glenville Oktoberfest keeps getting better and better, thanks largely to its sponsors like Rivers Casino, MVP Healthcare, SUNY Schenectady, Marshall Sterling Insurance and Office Depot. 

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