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Oktoberfest draws crowds and kudos
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Crowds fill Main (above) and Church streets on Saturday for the 34th Oktoberfest celebration. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Thousands of people flocked to uptown Martinsville on Saturday to enjoy the sights and sounds of the 34th Oktoberfest.

From jewelry to a petting zoo, seasonal merchandise, food and inflatable rides, there was something for everyone.

“It’s one of those ‘you’ll know it when you see it’ things,” Renee Painter said when asked if she was shopping for anything in particular.

Painter, of Collinsville, is a regular festival-goer. She said Oktoberfest has “increased more and more” through the years in which she has attended.

Walking down Main Street, which was lined with a number of vendors, Painter said, “there’s a lot more variety. This has gotten better and better” each year.

Painter attended the festival with Karen Horsley of Bassett, who said she also has attended Oktoberfest “most years, including the past several years.”

Wanda and C.L. Kirkman, also of Bassett, said they regularly attend the event as well.

“It looks like a good crowd, and it’s good that pets can come,” Wanda Kirkman said while holding her chihuahua.

Kiki Via of Martinsville also is an Oktoberfest fan.

“I come every year. ... The music. I love the music. All of the music,” she said of gospel, soul and many other genres represented.

Walking her 12-week-old pit bull, Zeus, on a leash, Via said she thought there were many more vendors this year.

Before the festival, organizers said more than 230 vendors would take part.

Rounding the corner, the First United Methodist Church and its First Hand Experience Puppet Team wowed attendees old and young.

The group’s finale, “Don’t Worry, Trust Jesus,” featured scarecrows, flowers, crows and a host of other puppets singing to the tune of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

A pink fire truck from Chesapeake also was on display at the festival.

Parked near the Martinsville Fire & EMS department, the pink truck featured eyelashes over its headlights. It was decorated with painted ribbons of all colors to signify various types of cancer.

The phrase “Hope, Encouragement, Love” was prominently featured on both sides and the front of the vehicle, as were the words, “All Cancers. All People.”

Mark McLawhorn, a firefighter and EMT with the city of Chesapeake, said the truck was a reserve piece of equipment until Kim Rabeau, pink truck coordinator and a cancer survivor, came up with the idea of making it a cancer support truck.

“Now we go all over” with the truck, he said, raising awareness and offering support for cancer patients.

Festival-goers Jan and Mark Grose of Martinsville stopped often in the afternoon heat to give their Great Dane, Bob, drinks of water.

“He’s 2 years old and is our third” Great Dane, Jan Grose said as her husband walked close to the gentle giant, assuring passersby that Bob was not a threat.

“He won’t bite,” Mark Grose said many times as he stopped to let people pet Bob.

As Bob continued slowly down Main Street, Crystal Ingram was spellbound by the alpacas at Infinity Acres Petting Zoo on Church Street.

“I haven’t been here in a while,” Ingram said of Oktoberfest.

The last time she attended, Ingram, of Martinsville, said she did not recall seeing any animals. Staring at the alpacas, Ingram said, “they look so fresh and clean.”

The petting zoo included an assortment of animals, among them a pair of goats; Lulu, a pot-bellied pig; Zena, a great Pyrenees; a huge tortoise; a pony named Saturn; Venus the donkey; and “Turkey Lurkey,” a pet turkey “who thinks it’s a person,” its handler said.

Wyatt Reynolds, 3-year-old grandson of Darlene Gravley of Bassett, couldn’t get enough of the pony and the donkey.

“You like them, don’t you,” Gravley asked her grandson as he petted Saturn first, then Venus; then Venus, then Saturn. The process was repeated several times.

Elsewhere, Freedom Fellowship International Church showed scenes from its Halloween gospel play, prompting many young people to flee up the street.

The play is based on Luke 11:24 and is a sequel to last year’s play, church members said. The 2012 event that was based on Ephesians 6:12.

The play will be shown at the church at 400 Franklin St. in Martinsville from Oct. 31 through Nov. 1. Admission is free, members said.

Candidates for local and state offices also attended Oktoberfest, including Les Adams, GOP hopeful for the 16th District House of Delegates seat, and his opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Jones.

The two candidates in the Martinsville commonwealth’s attorney’s race also booths at the festival. Incumbent Joan Ziglar’s booth featured a game, “Court Trivia.” Ziglar is being challenged by attorney Clay Gravely, who campaigned from his booth.


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