Cuyahoga Falls -- The city's oldest festival returns for another offering of German food, drinks, music and games, as well as several new activities.
The 37th annual Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest will take place Sept. 16 through 18 at Falls River Square and the Riverfront Centre Mall, along Riverfront Parkway off Broad Boulevard. The festival will happen Sept. 16 from 5 to 11 p.m.; Sept. 17 from noon to 11 p.m.; and Sept. 18 from noon to 8 p.m.
Admission and parking are free.
Billy Harding, chairman of the Oktoberfest committee, said that between 35,000 and 40,000 attended the event in 2015 and added organizers are hoping to at least that many, if not more, this year.
"I think this year is going to be bigger than what it was last year," said Harding, who added weather plays a large role in attendance.
The event is sponsored by Western Reserve Hospital, Yuengling, Jimmy Bigg's Grille and Metro RTA.
Entertainment will occur on five different sites throughout downtown.
Musical offerings will include polka, accordion, blues, and steel drum music, as well as performances by both the Cuyahoga Falls High School Marching Band on Sept. 17 at 2:30 p.m. in the Biergarten and the Woodridge High School Marching Band on Sept. 18 at 12:30 p.m., also in the Biergarten.
There will be crafts, clowns, face painting and a magician. There will be a popcorn-eating contest on Sept. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in The Pit.
New features this year include keg barrel races, beer stein races, and a large assortment of food trucks set up by the north fountain. The keg barrel races will happen on Sept. 17 at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. and on Sept. 18 at 4 and 6 p.m.
The beer stein competitions are slated for Sept. 16 at 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m., Sept. 17 at 4, 6 and 8 p.m., and Sept. 18 at 3 and 5 p.m. For those race, competitors will hold four or five plastic steins filled with beer and then have to race from one area to another without spilling the beer.
At The Pit (south end of the mall), from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 17, there will be children's games, a pumpkin penny toss, pass the pumpkin and a German freeze dance, according to Harding.
New at last year's event and returning this year is a scavenger hunt. Harding said participants are given a checklist of festival vendors, committee members and downtown businesses that they will have to find. Those getting every item on their list marked off will win a prize, Harding said.
There will be 22 food vendors and 20 craft vendors.
Ohio State and Cleveland Browns' fans can catch the games while enjoying the festivities. Televisions will again be set up in the Falls River Square pavilion. The Buckeyes will play the Oklahoma Sooners on Sept. 17, while the Browns will face off against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 18.
Proceeds from past Oktoberfests have benefited charities and organizations including: Cuyahoga Falls Veteran War Memorial; scholarships to Cuyahoga Falls and Woodridge high school students; the Cuyahoga Falls and Woodridge high school bands; Cuyahoga Falls M&M's; Cuyahoga Valley Art Center; Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce; Western Reserve Hospital; Cuyahoga Falls and Northampton historical societies; Cuyahoga Falls High School Athletics Department; Cuyahoga Falls Challenger Little League; Akron Zoo; Falls Cancer Club; Riverfront Centre Clock Tower; Good Neighbors; FOCUS; Muscular Dystrophy; D.A.R.E.; the YMCA; Cuyahoga Falls Parks & Recreation; Cuyahoga Falls Library; Cuyahoga Falls Little Black Tigers; Cuyahoga Falls Riverfront Pontoon Boats; Children's Network; and Laybourne Sports Center.
Harding noted that the 2015 event raised more than $10,000 for local charities. Several $750 scholarships were also funded, he said.
"The better [the] weather, the more people that are down there, the more we can donate back to the community," said Harding.
Visit www.oktoberfestcfo.com/ for a schedule of events and other details about the Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest.
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