The smell of hundreds of bratwursts, wiener schnitzels, and cabbage rolls in the air can mean only one thing: St. John’s Oktoberfest is near. The 15th annual St. John the Evangelist Oktoberfest will take place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at the church, 1234 Ky.
Admission is free, and that’s the way the church likes it, said organizer Angie Evers.
“We’re glad to host the community,” Evers said.
Over the years, she has seen people come for various reasons. Some like the authentic German beer, which this year will include Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Dunkel and Pilsner. Others come for the polka music, provided this year by Ed Grisnick Orchestra and Frank Palcher.
“We have people come from Kansas City because they like Frank Palcher’s music,” Evers said.
This week, volunteers are preparing food. About six people will cut onions and make other preparations for sauerkraut on Wednesday. Thursday will be for cooking and preparing potatoes. By Friday, Evers said, 20 people will be cooking and pull everything together to be ready for Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a big undertaking, but it’s also a lot of fun,” she said.
Many of St. John’s congregation are from Hays, which has strong German roots, and authenticity is important to the event. Evers said one member of the church is German and is overseeing the prep work for the wiener schnitzels.
“It’s key to cut them very thin. If it’s not right, she’ll tell you,” Evers said.
Profits from Oktoberfest will benefit the church and St. John’s Catholic School. In addition to food, drinks and music, there will be children’s games and an inflatable playhouse.